Judge Clark Douglas' reaction to this film wasn't exactly rapturous.
A match made in Hell.
"There's no good reason to blow up Chicago. Except the food, the weather and the people."
Facts of the Case
The end of days has finally arrived. Christians across the world have been whisked away to heaven, and the unbelievers are left behind to deal with the hellish, monster-infested, plague-ridden world that remains. Lindsey (Anna Kendrick, Pitch Perfect) is an ordinary young woman who just wants to spend time with her boyfriend Ben (John Francis Daley, Horrible Bosses) and try to live as simple a life as possible under the circumstances. Unfortunately, Lindsey's life takes a wild turn when the Anti-Christ (Craig T. Robinson, The Office)—a.k.a. "The Beast"—demands that Lindsey become his evil satanic bride. Can Lindsey find a way to destroy The Beast before her wedding night?
I really wanted to like Rapture-Palooza, honestly I did. I'm a sucker for cinematic portraits of the apocalypse, my strict religious upbringing makes me an ideal audience for religion-themed satire and I'm a fan of both Robinson (who also starred in the raunchy-but-entertaining This is the End in 2013) and Kendrick. Unfortunately, Rapture-Palooza is a failure on almost every level, an excruciatingly bad comedy that would be completely unwatchable were it not for the natural charm of its cast members.
The movie largely seems comprised of scenarios built on unfinished jokes being told by stoned college students. In one early scene, Lindsey informs us that her mother (a poorly-used Ana Gasteyer, Suburgatory) is the only person known to have been rejected from heaven after being raptured. Okay, there's a fun premise: what could this poor middle-aged mom have possibly done to merit such a drastic measure? The movie doesn't seem to know or care—something is muttered about some sort of mix-up being made or someone being unfair, and that's the end of that. Another scene starts listing the many obnoxious plagues humanity is forced to deal with. First, we see some angry locusts, then it starts raining blood ("How unsanitary!") and then…well, then the movie just kinda forgets about the whole "plague" element. How did the Anti-Christ come to power? We're told that he was a politician, and that he killed a whole bunch of more powerful politicians, and then…eh, who cares about the details, he's the Anti-Christ now.
Almost every aspect of Rapture-Palooza feels similarly half-baked, as if the filmmakers were convinced that simply gathering a group of funny people together and throwing them into a wacky scenario would be enough. Craig T. Robinson is a very likable and funny guy, but there's only so much he can do with a screenplay that mostly has him ranting ceaselessly about how much he'd like to have anal sex with Kendrick's character (and she fares even worse, as the screenplay gives her little to do other than grimace and laugh nervously while she listens to these rants). I'm not sure how much of the film was improvised (I would guess at least some of it, given the ramshackle nature of many of the scenes), but one routine after another wanders aimlessly until it peters out and gives way to the next ill-advised bit.
The movie is clearly trying hard to be subversive, but it's hard to be shocking when your movie can't even bother to provide a decent entrance or exit for its most "controversial" bits. A third-act appearance from none other than God himself (a typically overeager Ken Jeong, Community) ought to be a big moment, but it's an underwhelming, poorly-written sequence that leads to a thoroughly bland climax. When a movie involving the Anti-Christ scheming to shoot Jesus out of the sky with a giant laser beam feels boring, you're doing something wrong.
"But look at the cast, though," you may be saying. Hey, I know where you're coming from. I mean, in addition to the aforementioned Robinson, Kendrick, Jeong and Gasteyer, you've got Rob Corddry (Hot Tub Time Machine), John Michael Higgins (Bad Teacher), Thomas Lennon (Reno 911!), Tyler Labine (Reaper), Paul Scheer (The League), and Rob Huebel (The Descendants). A lot of funny people, right? Not in this movie. In this movie, they're little more than stranded actors trying desperately to find ways to enliven a dud. The movie's sense of humor is generally pretty broad and dumb (it gets a big kick out of talking crows that use nothing but profanity, and seems to think the notion of an undead monster smoking pot is comic gold), and the actors aren't ever given an opportunity to alter that tone.
Rapture-Palooza (Blu-ray) has received a perfectly acceptable1080p transfer, though it often only helps to highlight the cheapness of the special effects. Evidently the movie put most of its money into getting a recognizable cast, because it's kinda crummy on a visual level (despite the overuse of moody filters to try to make everything feel more apocalyptic). Detail is strong, though, and blacks are impressively deep. The DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio track is fine, though there's nothing that's really going to make you sit up and take notice of the movie. Supplements include a commentary with Robinson, Corddry and Huebel, deleted scenes, a making-of featurette and a gag reel.
I like the people in this movie and look forward to seeing most of them in better things, but Rapture-Palooza is truly an abomination that deserves to be cast in the fiery pits of bargain bin hell.
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