Just when you think the four young couples who gather for brunch in It’s a Disaster are settling in for a massive eat-and-gossip sit-down, writer-and-director Todd Berger throws an apocalyptic wrench in the proceedings. As the title portends, disaster strikes true to that word’s Greek derivation. Meaning the stars are really – I mean really – poorly aligned.
What initially seems like a power outage confined to the home of the host-couple is really the first indication of large-scale terrorist attacks involving nerve gas. And if viewers suspect the events are a ruse, there are periodic visuals of the fifth couple – they’ve shown up late and are refused entry by the folks indoors – who lie dead on the porch.
From this point on, the brunchers’ Mercurial collective communication focuses on impending Plutonian death. But Berger takes it a step further by having them confront – and try to outwit– archetypal annihilation in an equally archetypal way, according to their professional and hobbyist leanings.
Tracy (Julia Stiles), a physician whom we know has sadly dated a string of crazies, has brought Glen (David Cross), an elementary school teacher who seems so solid that he’s thisclose to being a dullard. Hedy (America Ferrera), a brainy chemist, rattles off details about how this specific gas will decimate everyone in three hours, as her boyfriend Shane (Jeff Grace), a pop culture and comic-book fanatic, lets his Aquarian and futuristic bent run wild by hatching escape plots.
Lexi (Rachel Boston) and Buck (Kevin M. Brennan) are the irresponsible sexual and druggy freethinkers who seem oblivious to the fate that awaits them. The hosts, Emma (Erinn Hayes) and Pete (Blaise Miller), are the striving dual Everyman whose security, represented by their home and friends, is ticking away. And Berger himself appears early on in the movie as Hal, the neighbor wearing a hazmat suit, evincing a preparedness and thoroughness that’s probably shocking to any non-Saturnine observers.
In the scant time these folks have left, secrets, affairs and betrayals and confessions are shared and brunch – through one character’s late disclosure – seems destined to transubstantiate into a grim supper of the lamb, thereby keeping solid Tracy’s abysmal track record with men.
The smart but comically dark takeaway from It’s a Disaster is that even impending doom hardly makes a dent in motivating people to transform their idiosyncratic behaviors. Knowing there’s a consistency in not being able to step out of one’s archetypal footprint is warped consolation, but consolation nonetheless.
Astrology Film Rating: ☿♇ (Mercury, Pluto)