The Summer of 2013 will forever be known for two things. The first is all the handwringing over the massive flops from formerly known quantities like Johnny Depp (The Lone Ranger), Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn (The Internship) and Big Willie himself, Jaden's Teflon dada (After Earth). It will also be remembered as the season where every other film focused on either the end of the world or some manner of post-apocalyptic dystopian reality. The aforementioned affront from Will Smith and family saw our planet evolve over 1000 years to a world inhabited by all manner of mankind hating creatures, while This Is The End offered Seth Rogen, James Franco, Craig Robinson, and Jonah Hill trying to do the post-Rapture resilience thing. Brad Pitt took on a zombie pandemic while Pacific Rim showed us what happened when Godzilla and his buddies went medieval on some quasi-Transformers. We even had Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Edgar Wright, and the mandatory Cornetto reference taking on extraterrestrial robots in appropriately titled The World's End.
So any similarly styled movie coming out during this time would have to differentiate itself from all the other End of Days delirium, and oddly enough, Rapture-Palooza did just that. The indie comedy stars Anna Kendrick and John Francis Daley as girl and boy friend who end up stranded on Earth after God calls Judgment Day. Those who were saved are sent up to Heaven while everyone else is left to fend for themselves. Several months post-Armageddon and Lindsay and Ben are still dealing with rains of blood, epithet spewing ravens, and the occasional zombie leftover that doesn't quite know what to do with themselves post-raising from the dead while hoping to start a food cart for survivors. Eventually, the Anti-Christ (Craig Robinson) shows up with one thing on his mind - having sex with Lindsay. Turning to the Bible to find a way to destroy him, they concoct and elaborate plan by which our heroine seduces the horny Hellspawn and, with God's help (hopefully), send him back to the Underworld where he belongs.
Supremely scatological, but in a good, goofy way, Rapture-Palooza is like a 14 year old male - obsessed with breasts, the best way to describe and fetishize them, carnal concerns over butts, booties, poon, cooter, curse words, F-bombs, inappropriate language, and all manner of crude, rude, and otherwise "dude" ideas. This may be the first film ever in which the dialogue seems to come exclusively from a 1988 phone sex hotline transcript. The minute Robinson shows up, all sacrilegious satire is thrown out the window for one junk in the trunk/ class on the dash reference after another. Then the last act plot points kick in, giving us a kind of ADD-inspired experience where, one minute, you're laughing at the excess lewdness, the next you are dealing with a Devil who just won't go down. With a wealth of wonderful cameos (we get visits from Ken Jeong, Thomas Lennon, Tyler Labine, and Paul Scheer) and a crazy quilt of supporting characters (Lindsay and Ben's parents are, respectively, some of the best things in the film), we end up with a raunchy, rollicking good time.
Granted, it's all decidedly low budget. There aren't a lot of special effects, unless you consider someone screaming dirty words as a bird's mouth is manipulated with CG the height of Avatar like tech tricks and the opening could be a bit "bigger" in its depiction of Revelations. But we aren't really here for the Hosannas. Instead, scriptwriter Chris Matheson (perhaps best known for collaborating with Ed Solomon on the iconic '80s hit Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure) and director Paul Middleditch do the best with what they have. There is a decent feel for Seattle post-Rapture and the various little moments of out of this world weirdness help sells the overall atmosphere. Sure, the constant reference to mammaries and female genitalia can be a bit much, and a little Robinson goes a long way, but Rapture-Palooza understands how to play to its obvious strengths. This isn't a movie that's supposed to make a lot of liturgical sense. Instead, it's a stoner style comedy. With the right amount of pharmaceutical inspiration, you'll become a believer as well.
Lionsgate has released this film in a decent DVD which gives the limited financial flash of Middleditch's direction ample aesthetic space. The 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen image is clean and crisp, though you can occasionally see where the filmmaker's had to fudge a bit in order to cover for their homemade movie conceits. There is a little softness in some of the scenes, some of which could be a result of the original technology used, and a bit of artifacting, but overall, the image is excellent. The sound situation offers limited returns, even when various God-inspired mayhem is hitting all 5.1 channels. The Dolby Digital mix has a few flaws, including occasionally losing the dialogue in the score, but that could also be the byproduct of a non-HD approach.
As for added content, we get a peach of a commentary. Not from the writer and director, but from Robinson and costars Rob Huebel and Rob Corddry. While they are a bit hit or miss, and a little unsure as to how to approach the film overall, they are hilarious at times. The deleted scenes are more or less unnecessary, while the Gag Reel is fun. We also have a featurette focusing on Robinson and his role, as well as a look at Thomas Lennon in the make-up chair. Thrown in a few trailers and you've got a proficient digital package.
Rapture-Palooza will not appeal to everyone. Dumb gross comedies are so 1998, after all. Still, for what's offered, and who's offended, it earns a Recommended rating. Go in thinking you'll get the same level of laughs from Rogen and Company or Pegg and his pals and you'll be horribly disappointed. If, on the other hand, you partake of the same substances that got the characters of This is the End and The World's End through their particular apocalyptic problems - read: weed and beer - you'll have a giggly good time.
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