Friday, June 21, 2013

Review: "It's a Disaster!"

I can't say that I was really looking forward to this movie, but I had seen the trailer and thought, "You know what?  It could be good."  We watched it on a lazy afternoon when it was raining outside and we weren't really planning to be anywhere and we managed to sit through the whole thing without having to take a breather.  That in and of itself should have been an indication that it was a decent film.  But what really works about It's A Disaster is not the acting so much as the well crafted script with a clear beginning, middle and end, something I've been  missing from movies lately.

We are first introduced to this group through Tracey and Glen, a new couple arriving at the brunch with Tracey's friends.  Immediately we get a clear picture of  where Glen and Tracey are in their relationship during a "discussion" about the radio overlaid with tentative statements and veiled annoyance.  As they make their way to the door of Emma and Pete's house we're given more background, "Lexi is Buck's wife.  Emma is Pete's wife."  Oh and don't say ANYTHING about Hedy and Shane's wedding because it's COUPLES BRUNCH!  This statement alone tells us more than we need to know about the history of this group of friends and Glen's status outside it.  By staging the encounter at a "familiar" setting and making David Cross the outsider, we're given a character of our own to use as our entry into the centre of this adventure.

For the most part Cross plays the straight man and as always, he shines in this role, reveling in the real subtleties of the room in which he's given to move.  This is a farce to be sure but a farce that depends more on the ridiculousness and hilarity of the characters than the situations themselves (since the whole film plays out within Emma and Pete's small house) so rather than dealing with plot twists specifically we deal instead with "character twists" where each character moves the action forward by reacting to the events that are unfolding in some unforeseen or otherwise unanticipated manner.  At times it's ridiculous, at other times it's hilarious but the one thing I can appreciate is that it serves to move the story forward.

Oh, did I forget to mention that this is a disaster film?  But it's a comedy though, totally.

Performances overall are a little understated in this one with David Cross and America Ferrera definitely stealing the show.  Julia Stiles plays herself but in this instance that was what the role called for (and likely why they hired her).  Rachel Boston and Kevin M Brennan (Lexi and Buck respectively) were perhaps a little weak in the acting department and Erin Hayes and Blaine Miller too are a little understated but as a unit the actors managed to be believable as a group that had been friends for many years and ultimately cared fairly deeply for one another. 
Even better, the script is written almost as a one act play and moves along at a fairly steady clip.  At no point was I left feeling that the story was dragging, nor was I given time to bemoan the semi-ridiculousness of the situation.

A little bit hipster, this one is likely borne of the question: could I survive if there was a disaster?  And frankly, I'm not sure I could, but it was definitely fun watching them try (to figure out what to do with themselves, clearly I'm not going to give away the ending).

My rating: 3 out of 4.  Check it out, it's definitely worth your time.  Now available on iTunes.

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