A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Rapture-Palooza is an edgy comedy that depicts what life would be like if the evangelical Christian idea of the rapture took place. Viewers of faith may be offended by the movie's religious jokes and the manner in which Satan, God, and Jesus are portrayed (and ultimately killed, leaving nonbelievers to live in peace). The Anti-Christ (played by The Office's Craig Robinson) makes nearly nonstop overt sexual references, especially once he discovers that another character is a young virgin. The sexual comments are extremely raunchy and explicitly allude to positions, genitals, pubic hair, oral sex, and a host of other graphic descriptions. The violence is intended humorously and includes burning rocks, nuclear weapons, and a zombie virus destroying or turning millions of people. The language is incessant (loads of "f--k," "a--hole," "s--t"), and marijuana use is rampant.
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What's the story?
RAPTURE-PALOOZA is a comedy about life after the fundamentalist Christian idea of the rapture takes place -- i.e. the instant when billions of Christians instantly disappear and are transported to heaven, while nonbelievers are left behind on Earth. Among the left behind are a teenage Seattle couple, Lindsey (Anna Kendrick) and her boyfriend, Ben (John Frances Daley), whose mothers were raptured (in Lindsey's mom's case, only temporarily) and who face the constant tribulations of plagues like locusts, blood rain, flesh-eating wraiths, cursing crows, burning rock hail, and finally, the Anti-Christ, a politician who goes by the nickname The Beast (Craig Robinson) and has a trigger finger on nuclear warheads. When Ben's father (Rob Corddry), one of the Beast's bodyguards, takes the teens to his boss' compound, the evil leader takes a shine to Lindsey and demands that she marry him or he'll kill everyone she loves. Lindsey and Ben have only eight hours to concoct a plan to defeat the Anti-Christ before she's expected to consummate her relationship with the Satanic leader.
Is it any good?
Rapture-Palooza seems like an overlong improv routine by a bunch of comedian pals. Poking fun at religion isn't a novel idea (just watch any episode of South Park, which has ridiculed nearly every belief system from Christianity and Judaism to Scientology and militant atheism), and it takes a lot more than "isn't the rapture hilarious" to form the basis of a feature-length film. Admittedly, there is genuine talent in the cast (despite the nonstop vulgarities, Robinson is responsible for many of the movie's limited laughs).
The pothead wraiths also make it obvious that the movie's target audience is definitely young: teens and undergrads who'd rather laugh at a cheap marijuana joke and the sight gag of Ken Jeong as God than see a subtler comedy with less swearing and obvious punchlines. Yes, there are a few funnies in the plot, like when Lindsey explains that her raptured mother (Ana Gasteyer) was summarily sent back to Earth for basically being too much of a shrewish nag. Gasteyer's bitter back-and-forth with her unsurprised husband (John Michael Higgins) is undeniably amusing, as is the moment when it's revealed that a Book of Revelation-obsessed televangelist was not, in fact, raptured. Otherwise, if you want equal-opportunity religious comedy, stick with South Park.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can discuss whether it's ever OK to make fun of people's beliefs. Considering that many Christians believe in God, the Bible, and the second coming, is Rapture-Palooza offensive? Why or why not?
What's the movie's ultimate message? Is it that the world is better off without Christians and God? How does the world change once the believers are raptured and God, Satan, and Jesus are killed?
- In theaters: June 7, 2013
- On DVD or streaming: August 20, 2013
- Cast: Anna Kendrick, Craig Robinson, John Francis Daly
- Director: Paul Middleditch
- Studio: Lionsgate
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 85 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: language including crude sexual references throughout, and for drug use
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.