Lionsgate Home Entertainment // R // June 7, 2013
Review by Jeff Nelson | posted June 7, 2013
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The idea of living within a post-apocalytpic world was conveyed in countless motion pictures over the last few years. These fantastical movies are known to work well as summer blockbusters. Over time, filmmakers appear to have become more interested in the process of the apocalypse instead of focusing on what happens thereafter . However, they are starting to move into a completely different genre. While these movies are generally high-budget action flicks, the upcoming apocalyptic features fit into the comedy genre. Lionsgate's Rapture-Palooza has received buzz due to its well-known cast. Screenwriters are able to take inspiration from a variety of interpretations when it comes to the end of the world. Chris Matheson's involves the religious version, which is known as the rapture. The plot is as straight-forward as one would imagine, although it has difficulty delivering more than a few laughs.

Lindsey (Anna Kendrick) and her boyfriend, Ben House (John Francis Daley), happened to be bowling when the rapture took place. Unfortunately, the couple was left behind along with numerous other individuals around the world. Ben's father, Mr. House (Rob Corddry), works for the Anti-Christ (Craig Robinson) and continuously fights for his approval. Meanwhile, the Anti-Christ finds Lindsey incredibly attractive and forces her to become his princess of darkness. She ultimately decides to embark on a mission to defeat the Anti-Christ.

The first few moments of the film's running time reveals that the narrative utilizes a flashback structure. Lindsey provides voice-over narration, as she recalls the events leading up to the present. This gives her the chance to explain how the world has changed since the rapture took place. Flaming rocks crash into Earth's surface, the sky rains blood, and crows scream expletives at every human that walks by, just to name a few. The few chuckles that are to be had are from Lindsey's reactions to the world around her. The initial reveal of the crows is actually quite funny, but the scene loses its steam very quickly. Writer Chris Matheson has some decent ideas, but he doesn't execute them very well. Other times, he stays on certain jokes for too long. Even when the initial gag is simply mediocre, Matheson and director Paul Middleditch continue to run with it. By this point, not only is the scene not funny, but it becomes annoying. It's never enjoyable to watch a motion picture that tries so hard to be funny that it ultimately becomes awkward. Before the first act is over, audiences will be asking themselves if they are actually going to sit through the remainder of the film.

Comedy heavily relies on its characters. If they aren't able to make the audiences care, how are they expected to laugh? Rapture-Palooza has an extremely small number of roles, yet they aren't very charming or inviting. In fact, I never quite found myself feeling anything towards any of the characters. The picture slightly improves once the Anti-Christ receives more screen time, although this embodiment of evil is barely explored. He delivers the majority of the film's sexual humor. His interactions with Lindsey are the best moments to be found in this apocalyptic comedy, which makes me wonder why these scenes weren't taken advantage of. The primary focus is held on Lindsey and Ben's mission, drowning out some of the only humorous portions of the entire movie. There's only one way this plot could go with a script such as this. It ultimately feels more like a student film than a distributed motion picture.

The final twenty minutes makes everything that came prior look like gold. Since there was promise for some good laughs between Lindsey and the Anti-Christ, I was hoping for a somewhat comedic finale. Unfortunately, it simply takes a nosedive straight into the ground. Rapture-Palooza goes over-the-top in an attempt to be silly, but it feels more like an embarrassment. Once the features catches up to the present, there are a few lazy attempts to tie up the loose ends. The credits will begin to roll and audiences will be rolling their eyes. I'm not sure how writer Chris Matheson had an acceptable initial concept and some good ideas, yet he somehow managed to render it useless. The screenplay is quite disappointing, as it practically begs for laughs.

Despite the unappealing script, a solid cast has joined the production. Anna Kendrick is usually quite charming and welcoming on screen. She does what she can with the material in the role of Lindsey, although the results are unsatisfactory. However, she manages to deliver some laughs with her reaction shots. John Francis Daley plays Ben House. His comedic timing is quite tragic and he doesn't have any on-screen chemistry with Kendrick. Craig Robinson is most certainly the highlight of Rapture-Palooza in the role of the Anti-Christ. He's been given the best lines out of the bunch, which is primarily filled with crass humor. When he shares the screen with Kendrick, they are quite enjoyable to watch. The energy that is consistently bounced between the two of them is this picture's saving grace.

Even though there isn't an epic finale to be found, there are a few key scenes that are dependent upon the visual elements. The majority of Rapture-Palooza looks as it should. There's an abundance of make-up utilized primarily on the undead. They don't look great in the traditional sense, but they work. Unfortunately, the visuals head in a downward spiral in the final act, along with everything else. There's a fight sequence that one would expect to find in a YouTube video. It looks absolutely horrible, but it just might garner a few laughs. Director Paul Middleditch hasn't directed many motion pictures, but he has a lot to learn when it comes to the act of combining all of the art departments into a single project. The visuals are as uneven as everything else.

Even the charming talents of Anna Kendrick and Craig Robinson aren't able to save this comedy. Chris Matheson's screenplay is a disjointed mess. He has some decent ideas, although he doesn't know how to carry them out on paper. Some jokes are underutilized, while others are used far too many times throughout the running time. The final moments of the film are so unnecessary and ridiculous that they warrant no more than a sigh. Hopefully this isn't an indicator for the comedies to come in summer 2013. Rapture-Palooza is one that should be left behind. Skip it.

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