for all its problems, Rapture-Palooza is a still a surprisingly funny movie featuring some great comedic talents headlined by Craig Robinson. Although it does go a bit flat heading into the third act, most of the jokes and religious satire hits the mark making for a fun film.
Genre(s): Comedy, Fantasy
Lionsgate | R – 85 min. – $24.99 | August 20, 2013
Directed by: Paul Middleditch
Writer(s): Chris Matheson (written by)
Cast: Craig Robinson, Anna Kendrick, John Francis Daley, Rob Corddry, Ana Gasteyer, John Michael Higgins, Tom Lennon, Ken Jeong, Rob Huebel
Features: Commentary, Featurette, Gag Reel, Deleted Scenes, UltraViolet Digital Copy
Number of Discs: 1
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 2.35
Subtitles: English SDH, English, Spanish
Disc Size: 21.9 GB
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
THE MOVIE – 3.0/5
Note: This review contains spoilers about the plot and characters.
Rapture-Palooza is an oft funny religious satire and general comedy starring that guy from “The Office” and that hot girl from Pitch Perfect. It’s not flawless by any stretch but it elicited more than a few laughs from me but make no mistake, this isn’t a high-brow, multi-layered comedy.
The story opens with the occurrence of the Rapture, where believers are taken to heaven leaving the non-believers behind while the The Beast (CRAIG ROBINSON) – a.k.a. The Anti-Christ – rises to power and sets up chaos headquarters in Seattle while destroying numerous cities around the world, most egregiously Orlando, home of Disney World. Meanwhile, two of those left behind are loving couple Lindsey Lewis (ANNA KENDRICK) and Ben House (JOHN FRANCIS DALEY; “Bones”) are dealing with the remnants of the Rapture such as speaking loci, nasty wraiths with an infinity for pot, cursing crows, rain of blood and fiery rocks hailing from above crushing anyone in its path. And in a funny little bit, we also meet next door neighbor Mr. Murphy (TOM LENNON) who is dead but only yearns to mow his lawn.
Left behind with the couple is Lindsey’s father (JOHN MICHAEL HIGGINS), her pothead brother (CALUM WORTHY) and, kicked out of heaven for cutting in line, her mother (ANA GASTEYER) while Ben’s father (ROB CORDDRY) is Earthbound now working for The Beast.
When their dreams of owning a food cart gets crushed by one of those rocks, they desperately need money and take up an offer by Ben’s father to take a job for the Evil Overlord. Upon visiting his mansion and sprawling grounds, the Anti-Christ is smitten with Lindsey proposing he take her as his wife, and mother of his demon children… or else those she cares about will perish. Given a few hours to think it over, Lindsey and Ben attempt to come up with a plan which includes detaining the Beast which, according to the Book of Revelations, lasts 1,000 years. Of course, their detention includes locking him in a large dog cage and assumes the Lord of Evil couldn’t ever manage to escape. Their plans must also take into account The Beast’s personal security force and the wraiths standing guard outside.
The cast is one of the big reasons Rapture-Palooza works. Craig Robinson, who did get a bigger role on “The Office”, gets to shine as The Beast and allows his comedic side to let loose in one of the main roles. Anna Kendrick continues her success and rise following Pitch Perfect (not to mention the Twilight franchise) and though the material is hardly a stretch for her, she gets to wear a tight white dress for the final act (as seen on the front cover). John Francis Daley, like Robinson, gets some more to do breaking away from his supporting role on “Bones” although he basically plays the same kind of awkward guy.
The supporting roles are filled with some great comedic talents: Rob Corddry of “Children’s Hospital” is comparatively subdued yet has great scenes with Daley; John Michael Higgins is still underrated and deserves larger parts; Tom Lennon, like Higgins, is amusing in any role (even the tiny part in The Dark Knight Rises) to the point I hope he gets a major role in a studio comedy; and Ken Jeong makes his obligatory cameo-like appearance playing God.
Rapture-Palooza is a silly movie. This is not a story with multiple layers nor is the characters terribly fascinating, but when the jokes land, they land pretty hard, particularly early on. However, it does tend to lose steam heading into the third act especially considering we get to see the end at the very beginning leaving little suspense, even comedy-based, to the outcome for our heroines and the villain. It’s all laid out literally within the first few minutes and although there is an extra scene or two to tidy things up, even for a comedy there’s nothing added to expand on the story or any plot twist.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 2.5/5
This release comes with a matted slip cover that matches the inner cover. Inside is a paper with a download code for the UltraViolet Digital Copy (expires 8/20/14).
Audio Commentary – Cast members Craig Robinson (who also was an exec producer), Rob Corddry and Rob Huebel sit down for a random and not entirely informative track. This is basically three friends getting together at a bar and reminiscing about the old days.
It’s Good to Be the Beast (8:06; HD) – In the only featurette, this one takes viewer’s behind-the-scenes and get on-set interviews as the cast talks about what drew them to the project.
Deleted Scenes (9:00; HD) – Here we get five scenes, and even alternate songs, that were trimmed or removed from the final cut.
Gag Reel (2:44; HD) – As you can imagine with this cast, there’s plenty of on-set shenanigans.
Previews – Warm Bodies, Peeples, Disaster Movie
VIDEO – 4.5/5
The Rapture-Palooza Blu-ray, distributed by Lionsgate, is left behind and presented with a 2.35 widescreen aspect ratio and a devilishly well defined 1080p high-definition transfer. The picture here provides some excellent detail levels and a good color array. There is a fine amount of noise but its well dispersed and not distracting and there are no obvious signs of artifacting or pixilation. It’s a crisp transfer that might not have the “pop” but it is above average.
AUDIO – 3.0/5
Despite having a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track, this one is incredibly uneven. First, there are times it comes to life such as the big introduction to The Beast where the LFE channel thumps and shakes the room but then generally the dialogue levels are really soft, as is most of the elements from the center channel, to the point where I had to crank up the sound just to discern what some were saying. I doubt this is an on-set production issue as I have the DVD version which didn’t have that problem…
OVERALL – 3.0/5
Overall, for all its problems, Rapture-Palooza is a still a surprisingly funny movie featuring some great comedic talents headlined by Craig Robinson. Although it does go a bit flat heading into the third act, most of the jokes and religious satire hits the mark making for a fun film. The Blu-ray released by Lionsgate offers an excellent video transfer but stumbles with the audio which at times was too soft while the features are OK though nothing memorable.
Brian Oliver, The Movieman
Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.