Directed by: Todd Berger.
Written by: Todd Berger.
Starring: Rachel Boston (Lexi), Kevin M. Brennan (Buck), David Cross (Glen), America Ferrera (Hedy), Jeff Grace (Shane), Erinn Hayes (Emma), Blaise Miller (Pete), Julia Stiles (Tracy).
2013 saw three apocalyptical comedies be released. The biggest was This is the End, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s hilarious movie about celebrities dealing with the end of the world, the best was The World’s End, Edgar Wrigt’s capping entry in the loosely connected Cornetto trilogy, and the smallest was It’s a Disaster, which hardly anyone heard of. This is a small film – it has one setting eight major characters, and no special effects. The film almost doesn’t need its dirty bomb premise, except that there is no way these people would stick together for as long as they do if they had any other choice.
The premise of the movie is that of a couples brunch – a long standing tradition with this group of friends. Tracy (Julia Stiles) is bring along Glen (David Cross) – the latest in a long line of boyfriends, who she claims are all crazy, but Glen seems to be the most normal guy in the world – or at least among these eight people. Then there is the hosts Emma (Erinn Hates) and Pete (Blaise Miller) – who seemingly are the most perfect of the group, who are planning to use this occasion to announce their impending divorce. Lexi (Rachel Boston) and Buck (Kevin M. Brennan) are seemingly the most outwardly happy – and they credit this because they have an open marriage – just how open will be seen throughout the movie. Hedy (America Ferrara) and Shane (Jeff Grace) have been together forever, and engaged for 5 years, but still have not picked a wedding date. There is a fifth couple invited – but they’re always late.
Things start off a little awkward at first, as Glen tries to navigate the different group dynamics, and minor arguments ensue. Then the group realize that not only do they not have cell phone reception, they have no power either. It isn’t long before they figure out why – someone has detonated a bunch of Dirty Bombs in major cities across America – including a few in down LA. They are not in the immediate blast radius, so they follow instructions and stay inside – although the science teacher among them says they’ll only have a few hours before they all die. The different couples take the news in very different ways.
It’s a Disaster is a low key, and mostly an agreeable little movie. It doesn’t have great ambitions except to show this group of people whose relationships were mainly doomed even before the bombs went off. They have been together for a long time, and have a lot of complicated history with each other – and for the most part the bombs bring out the worst in them.
The performances are the main reason to see the movie. The more well-known actresses like Julia Stiles and America Ferrara fit in nicely with the rest of the group. Rachel Boston is a highlight as the ever flexible – in pretty much every way – Lexi who is a treat to watch. Best of all is David Cross, who gets to play the straight man, and gets the film’s biggest laughs with the smallest of lines and gestures. Cross has always been a comedic genius – his work on Mr. Show and Arrested Development back me up on this – but the movie don’t really know what to do with him. But he’s great here.
The movie is a quick paced 90 minutes – and for most of that runtime it’s an agreeable enough movie. The ending seems tacked on, as if writer/director Todd Berger had no idea how to end the movie at all. It’s not a great movie but any means – or even particularly good or memorable – but while watching it, I enjoyed much more than I didn’t. That’s about all I can say about it.