Evangelicals are pretty easy to make fun of and sometimes they deserve it. Case in point: the Rapture. This is the belief sort of inked out in the Book of Revelations in which true believers are literally whisked up to Heaven. In the meantime, people who didn’t believe in God are stuck on Earth where they will be tormented by plagues and demons for over a thousand years.
It’s a text that reads differently than anything else in the New Testament. And depending on who you go to, everyone has a different take on it. Some believe that there is no thousand years and Jesus just returns for the final judgment Some believe that people are whisked up in the sky (heaven = up) and leave their clothes behind while the rest of us suffer. But few of the self-described devout will say that none of it is true. This despite the fact that the earliest Bibles didn’t even contain the book of Revelations. It was added centuries after the New Testament Bibles by church elders, who were deciding between that and other apocalyptic books to add to the end of the book. No one even knows for certain who wrote Revelations.
And yet, it is debated more than anything else in the New Testament. All of this would be fine, except that it has been used as the main text to judge, label and condemn people certain religious groups don’t agree with. The apocalyptic teachings of the church have taken the messages of compassion found in the Gospels and have instead used it to divide us into two groups – the believers and the lessers. There will even be people reading these words that will be offended by what I am writing right now. And yet, I am expressing my own opinion based on historical fact. And I believe in God.
Therefore, if RAPTURE-PALOOZA wants to rip the right-wingers a new one, I’m fine with that. And sometimes it works. But other times, I saw a lot of wasted potential. They could have gone even farther.
The film stars Anna Kendrick (PITCH PERFECT, UP IN THE AIR) and John Francis Daley (BONES) as Lindsey and Ben, a young, celibate couple who are left behind following the rapture. It’s not that they are bad people. They are a good-natured couple who just wants to open up a sandwich cart. But they didn’t believe and as Kendrick points out, “If you don’t, you don’t.” I’ve been saying this same thing for years and getting weird looks but that’s besides the point.
Now, the two have to deal with pesky locusts, blood showers, pothead wraiths, foul-mouthed crows and giant flaming rocks. Worst of all is the coming of the Beast (Craig Robinson), who takes up residence in Seattle. Ben’s dad (Rob Corddry) has sold out to the Beast and tries to get the two a job working for the bad guys for a limited time. The Beast sets his eyes on Lindsey, an obsession that is compounded when he finds out that she’s still a virgin. The one joke that you’d think would get old is Robinson’s insistence on talking dirty in front of the timid Kendrick. It never does. I don’t know how they managed to pull it off, but Robinson’s delivery coupled with Kendrick’s reaction makes it funny every time. The Beast makes Lindsey a deal. Return to the mansion in eight hours and become his bride or see everyone she cares about killed.
Kendrick is good as usual in the lead. I really like it when she is thrust into the lead. She’s always a charismatic and entertaining screen presence. Robinson can usually go either way. He’s good when he ad-libs a little, not so much when he ad-libs a lot. Thankfully, Robinson operates at just the right level here and his Antichrist manages to be obnoxious without being aggravating
Sadly, the same can not be said for the whole movie. There are a few people who come close to riffapalooza, if I can coin a term. This has become a big deal in recent years, where comic actors are just allowed to make up their own material as it goes along. It works for certain things, but not when you need to advance a story along through what should be tight editing and momentum.
Which is not to say that it overstays its welcome. If anything, RAPTURE-PALOOZA is too short. The end credits start rolling after a scant 78 minutes. One of the most wicked jokes in this whole thing is that the big apocalyptic battle is pretty underwhelming. Still, there should have been a little bit more foreplay. This is the Rapture, man! This has been the basis for tons of horror films, those stupid LEFT BEHIND books, some great Slayer albums, Kirk Cameron’s continued celebrity and all sorts of crazy stuff that millions of people still take one-hundred percent seriously. To not lampoon this scenario for all its worth is a sin in itself. ★★1/2 (out of ★★★★)
– Rated R for strong language, comical violence and some pot-smoking.
– Running time: 1hr 25 mins.