Rapture-Palooza Press Junket

This past weekend I sat down with three comedic talents from the upcoming film, Rapture-Palooza; Craig Robinson, Rob Corddry, and Rob Huebel. The press junket was held at a hotel, as they often are. This time it was in Beverly Hills on a Sunday, so I arrived early without the city’s usual traffic to slow me down. They had the usual spread of food out for the press, including this particular hotel’s signature imitation of a Hostess ho-ho. I refrained, going for the artesian imported bottled water instead.

The interviews were to be held in hotel room which had tables and chairs in place of beds. Waiting for the talent to arrive, I found myself needing to use the facilities, releasing that fancy water from the oblong-shaped bottle back out to sea. As luck would have it, I was exiting the restroom at the same moment that Corddry was entering the room. As is the case in nearly every hotel I have ever been in, the restroom is located near the room’s only entrance, so Corddry and I had an awkward shuffle. As we sat down, Corddry asked how long I had been in the restroom. I looked at him with complete seriousness and responded, “I’ve been in there since last night. This is my hotel room. I have no idea what is going on.”


There was a great deal of joking when I talked to these three guys. Robinson even broke into a little impromptu singing when discussing his improvised vocal riffs in the film, but there was a serious aspect to the interviews as well. The film is a comedy, but one which was filmed during a time that some seriously believed there was a possibility it would soon come true. It is a film about the coming of the end of times, and the production took place during the May 21st predictions of 2011. On the evening before, director Paul Middleditch made an announcement to his cast and crew, saying “if I don’t see you on Monday, obviously they were right.”


It is no secret that when Hollywood finds something that works, there are bound to be a dozen duplicates following. The success of a product results in an increase of production; this is just simply supply and demand, but it begs a larger question. Why is it popular in the first place? In the past decade there have been films about the end of the world within the framework of many different sub-genres. Nearly every monster of horror movies has resulted in the destruction of civilization. This year alone has several science fiction films which deal with a post-apocalyptic Earth.

James Franco, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, and Danny McBride in This Is the End (2013)

Rob Corddry has been in three post-apocalyptic comedies recently, including last year’s Seeking a Friend at the End of the World and the zombie romance, Warm Bodies. Craig Robinson has two out this year. As Corddry puts it, “We as a people are obsessed with our own mortality.” But how is it that this obsession has become so humorous in the past year? Rob Huebel informed me with deadpan expression that he believes the end of the world is “probably going to happen this year.” Could he be right? Or is there another explanation for this sudden shift into apocalyptic comedy.


Rob Corddry as a zombie in Warm Bodies

In Hollywood Genre: Formulas, Filmmaking, and the Studio System, Thomas Schatz proves that film genres are both a ‘static’ and ‘dynamic’ system. What this simply means is that there are elements of films, of all genres and sub-genres, which will always remain the same as long as those particular films continue to be made. Conversely, there are aspects of a genre which are forever in flux.


 Schatz agrees with a “lifespan” of genres as stated by Henri Focillon in The Life of Forms in Art. This lifespan plays out in stages after the genre first appears in films. The first is “an experimental stage, during which the conventions are isolated and established”.The second stage, the classic stage, is described by Schatz as a time when the conventions are “mutually understood by artist and audience”. These are the films that conform to the expectations from the experimental stage. The third stage is the age of refinement, “during which certain formal and stylistic details embellish the form”. During this stage, the films are becoming more self-aware. Style replaces substance, as the substance becomes more familiar to audiences. Reviews for Oblivion have praised the visual appearance of the sci-fi apocalypse blockbuster, while the film’s plot seems a hodgepodge of many similar films.


Book of Eli

The final stage is a baroque stage, “when the form and its embellishments are accented to the point where they themselves become the ‘substance or ‘content’ of the work. These are the films that can only exist with the knowledge of previous genre patterns. This is where the apocalyptic comedies seem to be coming in recently. When the initial wave of apocalypse films popped up, the emphasis was on the fear and hopelessness of the situation. In films such as The Road, Book of Eli and countless zombie films, the future looked bleak and the end of the world was no laughing matter, but these movies work as a cathartic tool for helping society to address specific social anxieties, making it possible for the arrival of a new wave of films which allow us to laugh at these same fears. “Religion, and God, and the Apocalypse is a real fascination for me,” admitted Coddry, “so it’s fun to pepper that with F-bombs.”



But even the comedians can appreciate the reason for the new wave of these films. Work is work, and as Corddry puts it, “if you’re gonna throw a dart a movie, you’re gonna hit an end of the world one.” Screenwriter Chris Matheson (Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure) created a film about The Rapture in Rapture-Palooza, but it is also in many ways a satire about the state of modern America. As director Middleditch simply describes the film, “It’s about the Apocalypse at the end of your driveway.”

Even though the film was on a “micro-budget” and was shot in only 18 days in Canada, there is an extremely high amount of talent involved in the production. Corddry praises the method of filmmaking such as this, which says “Let’s take not a lot of money and a lot of people that will work for not a lot of money, that we know will have a report and get them in a room to tell jokes. It seems like that’s happening more, which I love.” This group of people includes Academy Award Nominee Anna Kendrick (50/50, Up In the Air), John Francis Daley (“Freaks and Geeks,” “Bones”), Ana Gasteyer (“Saturday Night Live”), Thomas Lennon (“Reno 911!”), Paul Scheer (“The League”), John Michael Higgins (“Arrested Development”), and Tyler Labine (“Reaper”). “I feel like there has been a trend lately,” Huebel added, “where a lot of movies and TV shows are starting to use more improvisers.”  This is definitely one of those films, and a collection of talent like this makes me anticipate the deleted scenes they must have compiled for the bonus features of an upcoming DVD and Blu-ray release.

Rapture-Palooza will be released in theaters on June 7th, 2013.




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