A slow zoom out on a picturesque beach that slowly reveals the H-bomb being dropped in Japan starts off the flick with a dark dry laugh (too soon?). From there we meet Tracy, played by Julia Stiles, arriving with her latest potential beau Glenn (David Cross) to her weekly weekend couples brunch. Hosting the party are Emma (Erinn Hayes) and Pete (Blaise Miller), who are using the get-together to let their friends know they plan on getting divorced. Also attending are the married, free-living Lexi (Rachel Boston) and Buck (Kevin M. Brennan), who don’t mind an additional member in their sex life, and the conspiracy prone Shane (Jeff Grace) and science teacher Hedy (America Ferrera) who have been engaged for over 6 years for a reason.
When news comes from their hazmat wearing neighbor, played by director Berger, that dirty nerve gas bombs were dropped close by in downtown L.A., and they have but mere hours till their demise, everyone reacts to the end of times in their own way, mostly thought of as a nuisance to their domestic peculiarities.
For the most part It’s A Disaster has a nice cast who are able to get laughs from director/screenwriter Todd Berger’s Armageddon-lite script. Most notably the always funny David Cross (exception- Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel ) who dries up the screen perfectly. Also, there’s a neurotically fun performance from Julia Stiles whom weirdly I’ve missed onscreen as of late, but it’s the wonderful America Ferrera who steals the show with some of the film’s best laughs, able to play big but believable.
On the other hand cartoonish reactions are plenty, especially from the unnecessarily over the top Rachel Boston with her dumb chick schtick. Jeff Grace’s nerdy and paranoid Shane also seems to be too much of a caricature playing a couple of unnecessary notches higher.
I feel like Todd Berger’s end of the world dark comedy would have played better as an actual play. With it’s one location setting and quick tempo, witty light dialogue that plays against the dangerous happenings around them, It’s a Disaster would have worked on the small stage, but up on the silver screen there’s a nasty sense of missed opportunities.
FYI, a pet peeve of mine is when you write a religious character who quotes scripture and then uses God’s name to promote something against basic religious theology. If your religious character is a wacko so be it, there’s plenty of them out there in the real world, but don’t try to write to paint a sympathetic true believer who goes against Moses’ “Big 10” and justifies it in God’s name. Cause that would be a disaster.
Sly dark laughs come and go, but nothing to tip your cap at, which is sad after such a dark comedy premise is established. Round and round we go with “who’s dissatisfied in what relationship,” but the banter doesn’t produce enough laughs and by the end I was left with an underwhelming end result considering all that potential.
Take a Drink: every time a secret is revealed.
Take a Drink: every time a character drinks.
Do a Shot: for every person that dies.