'Rapture-Palooza' will leave you smirking in the face of the apocalypse.Review Vital Stats:
Service: Xbox Zune Marketplace
Download Type: Rental
Picture Quality: HD
Loves: Comedies that poke fun at biblical events
Likes: Anna Kendrick, Craig Robinson
Neutral: How the apocalypse seems to be not all that horrible
Hates: That this was released so close to the much superior 'This is the End'
Should've: released this earlier in the year
Despite 2012 coming and going with nary a hint of the apocalypse, that hasn't stopped Hollywood from inundating us with as many end of the world movies as possible. At this point we have already had a number of films depicting different cataclysmic events that have in some form or another destroyed out planet. From alien invasions, the wrath of God and the zombie apocalypse, just about everything has been covered.
What the new apoca-comedy Rapture-Palooza aims to do is lighten the mood a bit and poke fun at the end of the world for a change. Death and damnation doesn't have to be such a downer, if looked at with the right mindset it can be downright hysterical. This is the type of movie for those who look at the bible and at the people who run their lives by its cryptic and often times baffling rules and just have a good laugh at it all. Suffice it to say, if you are a bible thumper, maybe you should skip this one.
Let's get the obvious out of the way first. Yes, this is very similar to that other comedy based on the rapture, This is the End. While it's unfortunate that both films, which share a number of similarities (most notably Craig Robinson, who appears in both films), had to be released within such close proximity to each other, Rapture-Palooza still finds its own voice and is able stand on its own two feet. The problem lies with how Palooza's vision of the apocalypse is just kind of...boring.
Instead of focusing on a group of self-obsessed celebrities trying to find a way to be saved, Palooza keeps it simple and makes it more about a guy and a girl, Lindsey (Anna Kendrick) and Ben (John Francis Daley), who just so happen to be living in a post-apocalyptic world and trying to make the best of it. While all manner of biblical catastrophes go on around them, swarms of locusts who have human-like faces and yell out the word "suffer!" over and over again, falling flaming rocks, wraiths and even the anti-Christ himself, both Lindsey and Ben have a modest dream of making and selling sandwiches to those damned to live out their existence on a demon infested Earth.
With such modest goals, it's kind of difficult to hate on the film for its more than apparent shortcomings. Sure its low budget is noticeable with the same 4 sets used multiple times and the film is populated with a stable of surprisingly talented, but underutilized, actors in very small roles, but it is such an easy going movie that it is near impossible to dislike it. Much of the film's quaint charm though comes from its lead actors who are clearly having fun with their roles.
Anna Kendrick hasn't had too many starring roles, and while Palooza still feels like more of an ensemble work than a starring vehicle for the adorable young actress, she has no trouble taking center stage every single time she is given the chance. It's not just her show though, as she has plenty of help from Craig Robinson as the Anti-Christ. When he zeroes in on Kendrick and begins courting her in the most perverse ways imaginable (his comments leave absolutely nothing to the imagination), the film becomes this twisted little romance-gone-awry that really helps set itself apart from the rest of the pack.
Unfortunately, the rest of the film has a difficult time sustaining a consistent level of humor when Kendrick and Robinson are apart. While there are plenty of neat and clever ideas all throughout the film, the best of which is the idea that someone can have their 'rapturing' revoked and sent back down to Earth, none are ever taken full advantage of. It often times feels as though the writers had a lot of jokes but didn't know how to implement them into the story or expand upon them. Once they are used they are gone forever (seeing those locusts more would have been nice for instance).
Lindsey and Bens's idea of trying to start any business amidst the apocalypse is pretty hilarious, but instead of taking that idea and running with it, we get this really poor running gag of a neighbor who is damned to mow his law for eternity. That may sound funny, but trust me, it isn't. Similarly disappointing is the finale of the film that all takes place in the anti-Christ's backyard, literally. The problem isn't with how low budget the film is, the problem is that it just isn't all that funny.
Indie-comedies are a dime a dozen and Rapture-Palooza stands out because of a neat concept and a pretty solid supporting cast that despite the film's many shortcomings, give it their all. That is what makes the film such a disappointment, with such a unique premise (This is the End not withstanding), and two great lead actors who share a bizarre chemistry with each other, this should have been much more memorable and ultimately more funny endeavor , which it isn't.
But there is still this overall quality to the whole production that makes it easy to just sit back and enjoy it for what it is and forgive it for its faults. There is nothing offensively wrong with the film, it's heart is in the right place and the cast does an admirable job in selling it. So, if you are still on the look out for yet another movie about the apocalypse, that is more of a comedy and isn't called This is the End, then you could do a lot worse than Rapture-Palooza. Just don't go in expecting to remember it down the road though.