Main Cast: Julia Stiles, David Cross, America Ferrera
Director: Todd Berger
So, if you knew your world was about to end, how would you choose to spend your final hours? Of the millions of answers to that question, I suspect that not one of them is, “at an uncomfortable, passive aggressive couple’s brunch.” But, well, sometimes when the world ends, you just don’t get a choice. And when that happens, It’s a Disaster.
It’s a Disaster is two things – the story of how a group of 8 people handles their impending demise and the story of 8 dysfunctional human beings. First we have Tracy (Julia Stiles), unmarried physician in her 30s bringing new boyfriend Glen (David Cross from Arrested Development) to his first couple’s brunch. She’s nervous and brought stew. Then we have hosts Emma (Erinn Hayes) and Pete (Blaise Miller) who have been married for 8 years. She is controlling, he couldn’t care less about her carefully planned events. Next up are Buck (Kevin M. Brennan) and Lexi (Rachel Boston), also married 8 years and currently still high on the cocaine from the previous night. Finally we have Jeff (Shane Owens) and Hedy (America Ferrera), engaged for 6 years with no wedding date in sight. Hedy is a brilliant science teacher and Jeff is an eBay obsessed nerd who turns out to be the resident paranoiac.
And there you have it. When brunch turns into indefinite quarantine after some sort of attack that’s killing people on the street, we get to watch these people react, work through their relationship issues, and air some dirty laundry in the process. It’s a Disaster is really less about the actual disaster of impending doom and more about the human disasters taking up space in this particular house. It’s sort of a Dysfunctional Family of Doom movie.
Any dysfunctional family movie relies heavily on the characters to be either people we like and root for or we loathe and wish a speedy demise. In this case, we don’t get much clear delineation. Every one of these people is immature, needy, selfish, and certainly should not be allowed to reproduce. Yet each also has his or her own particular charm, annoying as some of those charms may be. Tracy and Glen are the most “normal” appearing of the bunch, trying to begin a relationship during brunch and the apocalypse, with the understanding that brunch
it the greater hurdle. Stiles is solid, but Cross is very good. His Glen is the New Guy who seems so very normal in the midst such firmly established group idiosyncrasies. America Ferrera is also good as braniac Hedy, who falls into an unexpected stupor in the face of disaster, then decides to let her freak flag fly while she has the chance.
It’s a Disaster is neither actively offensive nor is it particularly special. It’s a very average premise, with solid but unremarkable characters, performances and dialogue. There are a few very good moments and just as many clunkers. Writer/director Todd Berger (who has a cameo as the hazmat suited next door neighbor who breaks the news) didn’t pick up quite enough momentum with his cast or story to make the film into anything out of the ordinary, but it’s a solid enough effort that he definitely gets points for putting together a good cast and a decent story in what appears to be only his second feature film as a director. 3 stars out of 5 for It’s a Disaster and a recommendation as a rainy day instant streaming choice.
photos by David Shankbone and Theornamentalist