It's unfortunately fitting that one of the biggest laughs in Rapture-Palooza occurs when Craig Robinson's Antichrist character, who has been spewing nothing but terrible sexual innuendo at Lindsey (Anna Kendrick) since the first moment he laid eyes on her, catches himself in the middle of explaining a pun, deciding "actually, that's not that funny." Despite a cast packed with some of the best people working in comedy today (John Francis Daley, Rob Corddry, Rob Huebel, Thomas Lennon, John Michael Higgins, Ana Gasteyer, Paul Scheer, and Robinson, just to name a few), Bill & Ted scribes Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon taking up writing and producing duties, respectively, and the lovely Kendrick in the lead role, this end-of-the-world comedy is an apocalyptic misfire.
As Lindsay explains in a bit of voice-over narration, the Rapture arrived unexpectedly -- she's rolling strikes in a bowling alley with her boyfriend Ben (Daley) when most of the other patrons suddenly disappear, called up to heaven thanks to their church-going, God-fearing history. Everyone else has to stay on Earth, where they are pestered by wraiths, talking crows, screaming locusts, and fiery rocks that rain from the sky. Despite the transformation of the world around them, Lindsay and Ben remain optimistic, forming plans to open a sandwich cart, but when their first cart is smashed by one of those flaming boulders, they're forced to turn to Ben's dad (Corddry) for help, who works for The Antichrist and can potentially get them a job cleaning his pool. Unfortunately, the moment the Antichrist -- or, "The Beast", as he calls himself -- sees Lindsay, he becomes set on making her his Queen of Darkness, much to everyone's dismay.
Rapture-Palooza basically has three jokes, which the audience will become familiar with in a hurry: comically understated observation of the world as it now exists, swearing, and Robinson's endless supply of double and single-entendres about Kendrick's body and what he plans to do to it. Each of these is repeated without much variation or innovation in order to stretch the movie to "feature-length" (it barely succeeds, running 78 minutes without the extensively long credits). For instance, it rains blood, which is not horrifying so much as frustrating, as Ben's windshield wipers struggle with it. Those crows sit on lightposts and spew profanity at people from a distance. There's comic potential in these ideas, but the film repeatedly settles for the easy or obvious gag, usually involving profanity and overacting.
In particular, Robinson's material really grates on the nerves. Although he displays some crackerjack timing and is much more lively here than in This Is the End, comedy doesn't play into a void. It requires another character for the joke to bounce off of, and Lindsay is definitely more of a void, not a fully-formed character. As Robinson unleashes an onslaught of obscenities that would make even a 15-year-old boy uncomfortable, the screenplay doesn't give Kendrick anything to do but stand there and take it, which turns the comedy into an assault. A big part of The Beast's interest in Lindsay stems from her virginity. It would be nice, for instance, if Lindsay had a reason that she had decided to remain a virgin, or if the film played up Ben and Lindsay trying to find the right moment, which would actually give her a story. At the very least, she could be more of a comic sparring partner when rejecting his advances. One or two gags (like The Beast's love of eggs) veers toward the absurd, which is much funnier, but they're drops of water in a vast desert.
Other amusing weirdo gags linger elsewhere. Thomas Lennon plays a zombie who wants nothing more than to keep going through the motions of mowing his lawn, even though his mower was stolen months ago, and Paul Scheer is also excellent in a tiny role as a monstrous gate guard who hates Corddry's guts. Corddry himself also has a good line or two stemming from his complete lack of confidence in Ben. There are a few laughs to be had, but in the end, Rapture-Palooza feels like a brainstorming session of Rapture jokes and explicit pick-up lines, hastily slapped onto a clothesline plot that doesn't actually support the jokes, because nobody's put any thought into how these characters fit in with the ideas.
Rapture-Palooza arrives in a simple but slick-looking package highlighting Kendrick and Robinson. No points for creativity, but there's a nice use of color, I suppose. The disc and digital copy code are packaged inside an eco-friendly case, which is accompanied by a cardboard slipcover featuring identical artwork.
The Video and Audio
This 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen picture and Dolby Digital 5.1 sound are both adequate, if not impressive -- good enough to avoid serious complaints, not impressive enough to praise. Detail and color are very strong, although artifact-type edge haloes appear when characters are in front of bright backgrounds. Similarly, there are some decent surround effects (such as, for instance, a crowd of swearing crows flying away from a power line, as well as the occasional explosion or storm), and music is nicely amped, but most of the movie is just characters indoors talking to one another. English and Spanish subtitles are also included.
First up is a audio commentary by Craig Robinson, Rob Huebel, and Rob Corddry. Much like the movie, all three of these guys are funny, and ought to be able to come up with something, but they seem unsure of where to go with the commentary format, spending more time mocking the fact that they're doing a commentary and chuckling at the occasional joke. Disappointing.
An assortment of short video extras follow. First is a Robinson-centric making-of-featurette, "Good to Be the Beast" (8:05). Robinson talks a little about his role as a producer on the movie and how he worked to bring friends from the comedy world onto the project, intercut with lots of B-roll of the cast joking around on set, as well as some outtakes. This segues well into a gag reel (2:42), which is easily the best extra on the disc -- why isn't the movie this funny? Next, "Thomas Lennon's Movie Making Moments" (5:39) is an amusing little extra with the actor riffing from the makeup trailer and on the set (the makeup lady is a great sport and a great audience). His goofy French accent is a highlight. Lastly, there's a series of deleted scenes (8:50), which includes some alternate improvisation for scenes that remain in the movie. A couple of chuckle-worthy lines were cut, but it's basically more of the same.
Trailers for Warm Bodies, Peeples, Disaster Movie, and a promo for Epix play before the main menu.
Despite a fantastic cast, Rapture-Palooza is a mess, leaning heavily on gross-out humor that might earn a few chuckles from thirteen-year-olds. Skip it.
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