When an individual is in the beginning stages of a new relationship, the situational hurdles that need to be cleared can be numerous. Meeting friends and family can often be awkward and in Todd Berger’s It’s a Disaster (2012), audiences partake in a fresh approach.
Glenn Randolph (David Cross) is going to a friendly brunch with his new girlfriend, Tracy Scott (Julia Stiles). Glenn is socially awkward, but excited about meeting Tracy’s friends. In real-life, situations like these can make or break a new relationship and from the beginning to the end, the audience is left unsure about how well Glenn and Tracy fit together.
As things begin to feel tense due to impending divorce and adulterous transgressions, it looks as though Sunday-brunch is becoming disastrous. Disaster being the key word, the film remains bottled in the house as the brunchers are confronted by a neighbor in a full hazmat suit. He goes on to tell them about bombs going off in the city and the scene is set for the end of the world as they come to realize that the bombs contain life threatening nerve-gas. The rest of the film dwells on the eight brunchers barricading the house and preparing for their inevitable demise.
When one thinks of disaster movies, films like War of the Worlds (2005) or 28 Days Later (2002) come to mind. They’re usually fast-paced and full of gratuitous special-effects and CGI. In a twist, It’s a Disaster stays away from these methods completely. It’s slow-paced, mundane and darkly comedic.
Sheri Linden of the Hollywood Reporter says, “The script excels at character-driven laughs, cerebral yet goofy, without resorting to sitcom stereotypes or genitalia-focused stupidity,” which gives the viewer an appreciation for what they’re watching. Instead of the standard sit-com based material we see in most relationship movies, we have a smart script and characters played with depth.
Unfortunately, this is far from a Citizen Kane (1941) or a Casablanca (1942). It’s kept interesting due to cinematography and camera techniques, but at its plainest level, Disaster is stuck in one house as events occur outside. It would’ve worked much better as a short film or a play, but the movie format seems like a forced fit. It drags on too long and although the real-time approach is appreciable, the re-watch-ability of this film is minute. Much like Memento (2000) it’s just not as good the second time.
All in all, Disaster is worth watching. The ending alone makes sitting through any down-time worth it to the audience. It’s a nice spin on the over-done apocalypse genre and it feels a lot more organic than traditional relationship movie. Its only downfall is the format, which spreads the content a little too thin, but it’s worth at least one viewing.