Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
It’s a Disaster and They Feel Fine
world will soon be destroyed, but annoying hipsters remain eternal, like
cockroaches. A small circle of friends
(or frienemies) will brunch on vegan stew and saran gas in Todd Berger’s It’s a Disaster (trailer here), which opens
today in New York.
might say the regular couples’ brunch hosted by Emma and Pete Mandrake is a
custom “more honored in the breach than the observance.” Nobody really enjoys them, but they feel
obligated to attend. Glenn Randolph is
about to find out why. He is new to the
group, having only dated the romantically luckless Tracy Scott for a few weeks. Before the scrupulously unidentified
terrorists or whatever strike, the Mandrakes drop their own bomb, announcing
their plans to divorce.
already tense mood is hardly improved when the cable, internet, and wireless
service all go on the blink. Eventually,
the self-absorbed couples get the inkling something might be amiss, leading to
a mad search to find an old fashioned terrestrial radio.
though Disaster is essentially a
comedic sketch drawn out to feature length, the first two thirds are
consistently amusing. Berger wryly skewers
his consumerist yuppie couples, walking a fine line in their
characterization. They are neither too
likable for the audience to be overly concerned about their impending doom, nor
so unpleasant we resent spending eighty-eight minutes in their company.
Disaster craters in the home stretch,
mean-spiritedly bludgeoning Evangelicals.
Satire is only really funny when it is based on a thorough understanding
of the subject getting the business. Frankly,
it seems like all Berger knows about the Rapture he gleaned from a Left Behind trailer.
to a point, David Cross is quite amusing as Randolph and the persistently
under-appreciated Julia Stiles displays some nice comic timing as Scott. Rachel Boston and Kevin M. Brennan also show
an aptitude for broad, slightly risqué material. America Ferrera and Jeff Grace have plenty of
shtick as the perennially engaged Hedy Galili and Shane Owens, but they never
look or sound like a convincing couple and generally lack presence
on-screen. On the other hand, Erinn
Hayes and Blaise Miller are completely believable as the bickering Mandrakes, but
Berger largely shortchanges them on zingers.
unfathomable stress of Armageddon could be a telling crucible to examine human
nature in all its extremes and banalities.
Yet, like Abel Ferrara’s 4:44 Last Day on Earth, Disaster largely
squanders the potential opportunity. There
are a fair amount of laughs and some clever gags in the film, but it will leave
many viewers will a sour after-taste.
Recommended only for full of themselves David Cross fans, It’s a Disaster opens today (4/12) in
New York at the Village East and in Brooklyn (naturally) at the Nitehawk
Labels: Apocalyptic cinema, Julia Stiles