The year 2000. It came and went not with a grandiose bang but a quiet whisper. The worst repercussion of January 1st, 2000 was not widespread global chaos and nuclear Armageddon but instead the usual New Years Day maladies such as hang over or one night stand remorse. While none of us wanted the actual end of days to occur, there was that slight bit of disappointment at all the buildup both in the news and in the entertainment industry being for naught; no computers going haywire, no rioting in the streets, just the same old grind as always. Yet while the world continued to function our fascination with being wiped out of existence continues as proven by the success of the “Left Behind” series and the lauded (justifiably) DVD release of “The Rapture”. The newest film to cash in on our morbid curiosity with the end of the world is “Happy Apocalypse Day” which takes the good idea of mocking this trend and tramples upon it.
Pres (Todd Wright) is awoken by his roommate Buck (Jesse Mangold) and informed that today will be their last day on Earth. He tells Pres that world leaders had announced late the night before there was nothing they could do and people were left to fend for themselves. Buck explains how he has compiled a list of things to do with his last day and has all ready achieved his number one goal of destroying the vending machine that never gave him the right soda. That number two on this list is catch HIV and that number three is rape Pres’ girlfriend Heather (Amy Hartman) should tell you which direction the film goes from here.
Extreme humor can be funny when written well and performed by the right actors however these factors are not in place here. Buck wants to get HIV in order to screw over fate. Whereas a montage of Buck attempting to kill himself in creative ways to accomplish a similar goal might have been humorous, the HIV angle falls flat and is an attempt at a cheap laugh. A five minute sequence chronicles Buck trying to convince Pres to allow him the opportunity to defile Heather. The scene is not only unfunny but painful to watch. There is an attempt at a Kevin Smith brand of conversational humor and frank dialogue but the performances are so wooden and the subject matter is so disturbing that the joke flat lines immediately…leaving four minutes and fifty seconds of head shaking and annoyance on the part of the audience.
Heather eventually does come over and she and Pres set out to spend their final day together. They have a pillow fight, play poker and cuddle. The point here appears to be that Pres and Heather understand how to truly appreciate their last day on Earth while the rest of the world is caught up in acting crazy because they can, a nice sounding premise that fails because:
1. The humor is a turn off and derails the rest of the film. The end of “Happy Apocalypse Day” may show Pres and Heather being tender but the build up that hurls lame jokes regarding HIV, rape, incest, castration and homophobia alienates the viewer from caring about any of the characters. Pres and Heather are not heroes because of any endearing qualities that possess but because they do not act like idiots, which isn’t a strong reason to care for a character.
2.Not a lot happens during the course of the day. What could have been done in fifteen minutes is stretched out to over an hour.
3.Pres and Heather’s time together is boring to watch. While in reality it would be nice to spend quiet moments with a loved one that does not mean watching other people do the same is visually interesting.
Jesse Mangold’s end theme here is sound but the impact is lost through the sloppy delivery. While there is much humor to be derived from the end of the world “Happy Apocalypse Day” is not the film to capture it.