David Cross is an actor/comedian that I admire. From his early days on Mr. Show to his latest turns in the recent Arrested Development seasons, he has always been a source of quality entertainment. But his efforts have always landed him television work where he can develop a character over the long arc of a season. When he does appear in films, it is either in a children’s movie where he is forced to constrain himself or in a cameo role that barely gets any lines at all. The same can actually be said about everyone else in this film. They are all either famous from a television show or a series of teenage movies that they made years ago. So I wondered what and how they got together. And then I watched the film, and I figured out why they all wanted to do the film.
It’s a Disaster stars David Cross as Glen, a man about to meet his girlfriend’s friends for the first time at a couples brunch. Wanting desperately to make a good impression, he is constantly pulled into conversations that make him uncomfortable. Glen has obviously walked into a no-win situation. Julia Stiles plays the girlfriend, Tracy, who seems to always be bringing someone different every time to these monthly brunches. The couples follow some modern stereotypes including the “perfect couple” (who is about to get a divorce), the “hippy couple” (who keep their relationship open and talk about being vegan all of the time), and the super smart woman with the child like man (who are currently in a five-year engagement). All of these couple of stereotypes converge upon each other and create conversations that make the audience feel uncomfortable. (Uncomfortable in a good way.) And this is all before they find out there is going to be a nuclear holocaust.
The strengths of this disaster comedy lies in the dialogue and the execution of it by the superb actors. There is one scene where America Ferrara sits on the kitchen floor and cooks a home-grown Ecstasy as she breaks up with her infantile boyfriend. She sits there in a child like pose and lectures him about being a child and focusing on the worst possible things. It is a brilliant scene executed in a way that make me feel bad for this man who had been extremely odd in previous scenes.
The first and second acts of the film are probably the best modern comedy that I have seen in a little bit. However by the third act when everyone is tired on-screen and you are tired off-screen, the director tries to shoe horn in one more unneeded twist. This makes the film end in such a way that was unsatisfying for me. You could tell that the ending had be rewritten several different times and in several different ways. There is no impact, no interesting resolution. It just kind of ends which is always the most frustrating of endings.
Despite the third act problems, I still recommend you see the film. It is full of uncomfortable situations and unforgettable dialogue. Everyone is neurotic in a way that endears them at least to me.