“Rapture-Palooza” has a lot going for it, which makes its failure as a comedy quite surprising. It has an all-star cast of comedians and a premise ripe for comedy, yet there are barely more than two funny moments in the entire movie.
Anna Kendrick and John Francis Daley star as Lindsey and Ben, a couple in Seattle who get caught up in a conflict of literally biblical proportions. The rapture occurs as predicted in the revelations chapter of the Bible, causing many people to rise to heaven, while Lindsey and Ben are stuck on Earth with the rest of the sinners. It’s not that they are bad people it’s just that they never went to church and just never believed. Lindsey’s mom (Ana Gasteyer) did believe and ascended, but was sent back from heaven for cutting in line. That’s actually kind of funny.
Everything else that happens is unfortunately pretty boring given that the world is supposed to be ending. There are crows that occasionally show up to shout obscenities, a few zombies, and blood raining from the sky, but Lindsey and Ben are pretty blasé about the whole thing. At one point Lindsey’s father (John Michael Higgins) is killed by a flaming rock, and although she says in a voice-over that it was the worst day of her life, she doesn’t seem that upset about it.
The thing that finally disturbs them is when the Beast of the apocalypse (Craig Robinson) takes a look at Lindsey and decides she is to be his bride. Robinson plays the Beast as a smooth-talking and egotistical millionaire who lives in a huge mansion with a lot of toys. The obscene things he says to Lindsey in the hopes of getting in her pants are probably supposed to be funny, but it just comes off as mean and idiotic. Lindsey and Ben have of course no intention of letting him get his evil hands on her, but the plan they come up with to defeat him is so stupid it’s a wonder they don’t immediately discard it to come up with a better one.
Robinson is a very funny actor, but maybe it’s because of the lines he’s given or the direction, but everything he does and says in every scene just falls flat. The rest of the cast is equally wasted, even when Ken Jeong shows up in the third act as God. When you have Senor Chang from “Community” fighting Darryl from “The Office” and the scene still isn’t funny, something is very wrong.
By an odd coincidence, “Rapture-Palooza” came out the same year as “This Is the End” another comedy about the end of the world that also starred Robinson and many more great comedians. That movie had its flaws, but it had rarely a dull moment, which is the last thing you want in a comedy.
Anna Kendrick has done lots of great movies and will undoubtedly continue to make great ones, but even she can’t save this one from the apocalypse.
(“Rapture-Palooza” is available on Netflix.)