'Rapture-Palooza' review: Craig Robinson is the Anti-Christ in blasphemous stoner comedy

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If you're going to commit to a blasphemous stoner comedy mocking the New Testament prophesy of the coming Rapture, you'd better go all in. Because halfway isn't funny. And either way, you're going to Hell. At least in the eyes of some.

Thus, the failed deadpan comedy "Rapture-Palooza" pairs up a seriously unflappable Anna Kendrick and John Francis Daley as survivors on Earth, not taken by the Rapture, trying to fend off the amorous advances of the Anti-Christ played by Craig Robinson. And it isn't as funny as it sounds.

Sure, taking the Bible literally ("Did anyone think this THROUGH?") in regard to the apocalypse can seem awfully silly in the age of computer-generated effects. The righteous are "sucked up into heaven" in a flash -- empty bowling shoes are all that's Left Behind ... in the bowling alley. Where's Kirk Cameron to explain all this?

Thus are the poor sinners still on Earth -- Lindsey (Kendrick), her dad ( John Michael Higgins, reaching and swearing for laughs), her mom ( Ana Gasteyer screaming "Why why WHY?") and stoner brother ( Calum Worthy) left to cope with plagues of trash-talking locusts, foul-mouthed crows, rains of blood ("Gross!") and "fiery rocks from the sky," all preparations for the return of Jesus on a white horse for the Day of Judgment.

The Anti-Christ is probably the only black politician in the history of Idaho, a guy who seizes power and proceeds to nuke cities that don't fawn over him -- London, Chicago, Orlando ...

The post-Rapture infrastructure imagined by New Zealand director Paul Middleditch has a Seattle that is still operating, despite the rains of brimstone -- TV stations still broadcasting people still buying sandwiches because "People appreciate a good sandwich, even when the world is ending." It's just a lot less crowded. 

The germ of a funny idea is here, and this ambitious picture drew a better cast than your average "Scary Movie" installment. But it is seriously slow, as if everybody involved had second thoughts pretty much every day they were on the job.

And if cast and crew are the praying sort -- not likely -- they're feverishly hoping "Rapture-Palooza" will disappear faster than a righteous bowler when the End is here.

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RAPTURE-PALOOZA
(Grade: D)
Cast: Anna Kendrick, Craig Robinson, John Francis Daley, Ana Gasteyer, Rob Corddry, Thomas Lennon
Directed by Paul Middleditch, written by Chris Matheson. A Lionsgate release
Running time: 1:24
MPAA rating: R for language including crude sexual references throughout, and for drug use

Photo/Video credit: Lionsgate Home Entertainment
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