Hello everyone. Let me start by introducing myself. I’m an adult man, 29 years old, and I have just finished reading my first chick lit. There, I said it. But before support emails start coming in, let me just say I survived. In fact, I feel secure enough to admit I enjoyed it. If only a little. Okay, maybe more than a little.
But in my defence, Apocalypse Next Tuesday is not your standard affair. Yes, our leading lady, Marie is a whiny, self-centred, immature and incompetent thirty-something with self-esteem issues – like we’ve seen so many times before. But this one actually has a lot to feel insecure about. Because her inconsequential little life is about to hit an entirely new dimension, as Judgement Day has arrived. And she’s dating Jesus.
Indeed, after ditching her goody two-shoe fiancé at the altar in front of the entire village – including the curmudgeon reverend Gabriel, her estranged parents, her dad’s gold-digging mail-order bride Svetlana, and her faithful and loving sister Kata -, you would think she’d have enough going on in her life as it is. Still the soothing presence of Joshua – the humble and drop-dead gorgeous carpenter flown in from Palestine – is enough to send Marie’s heart racing again. After overcoming her initial confusion, she spontaneously asks the meek craftsman out on a date. Little does she know that apart from fixing her dad’s roof, he has other higher duties to attend to.
What follows is quite a miraculous date. The unlikely couple hit the town for a rather philanthropic dinner at the local Italian, and a night of exotically profane rhythms at the salsa salon. Innocent Joshua is overjoyed with all the variety and joys life has to offer, and is tempted to forgo his other appointment. Marie on the other hand learns through the carpenter’s wisdom that there is more to living than she could ever have imagined.
However, as always, destiny stands in the way of their happiness. The reverend Gabriel – apparently an old and loyal friend of Joshua – tries his best to help the handyman keep to their divine schedule; which is hardly easy, as he himself has been engaged in a sex marathon with his old sweet-heart, Marie’s mother!
Meanwhile, other forces are gathering strength for the approaching battle, with Satan – in the form of George Clooney – hand-picking a team of apocalyptic horsemen from the local populace. Joshua will have to choose between his newfound humanity and his one chance at love, and his love for all humankind. And preferably before next Tuesday.
Presented as Life of Brian meets Notting Hill, German author David Safier delivers a seemingly innocuous little ditty which at the same time manages to touch on some deeply human issues in a very humorous way. Stuffed with all the filling you’d expect from a light romcom, this particular “meet-cute situation” turns out to be surprisingly effective in engaging in some serious commentary on mortality, sin and redemption in context of our Hollywood-fuelled fantasies of modern life.
Arguably, Apocalypse Next Tuesday tries a little too hard to be funny – which sometimes distracts from the happy fact that it actually is. And the resolution of the story does come as something of a – please pardon the expression – “deus ex machina”: Way too fast and simple. And yet the epilogue resounds with heartfelt, rewarding emotional closure, and it is here that the writer truly shows his worth. For all the shortcomings the genre might possess, Apocalypse Next Tuesday succeeds in rising above its earthly setting to something that is ultimately rather engaging and clever. Yes, I’m impressed, and I don’t mind admitting it.