A sort of Apatowian spoof on the Left Behind saga, Paul Middleditch’s Rapture-Palooza concerns all matter of heaven and hell, undermining the stone-cold self-seriousness of the Evangelical book and short-lived film series. It pokes undeniable fun at those who believe that, one day, part of the world’s populace will evaporate into thin air while the rest are left to endure everything the Book of Revelations has spelled out for those who defy God’s will.
The film follows Lindsay (Anna Kendrick) and Ben (John Francis Daley), a young couple unfortunately left behind after God’s children ascend to heaven. In this end-of-days scenario, if you can learn to live with the swarms of foul-mouthed locusts and occasional bloody downpour, life isn’t so bad—in fact, the filmmakers take strides to illustrate just how similar their apocalyptic setting is to our present day. Keen to leave their parents’ house and strike out on their own, prototypical millennials Lindsay and Ben start their own business selling sandwiches out of a little food cart. But their dreams are cut short after an errant meteorite destroys their enterprise. Reluctantly, they take a job on the boorish Anti-Christ’s (Craig Robinson) compound so they can continue to make and save money, but the devil has more than employment in mind after laying eyes on Lindsay, calling into question Ben’s moral fiber and general manhood.
Rapture-Palooza is a high-concept comedy that plays out within a cartoonish, post-apocalyptic milieu, but adheres too closely to hackneyed rom-com conventions. Impersonally and unadventurously directed, the film draws reasonable conclusions about the absurd nature of organized religion, depicting it as archaic and unnecessary, but it does so in such a halfhearted, perfunctory manner as to make Kevin Smith’s Dogma seem like a veritable master’s class in theistic studies. Middleditch simply misses an opportunity to present a more thorough examination of the anthropological and sociocultural nature of religion. Perhaps that’s too much to ask of a mainstream summer comedy, but any film that gives its primary subject such a cursory glance fails to reach its full potential.