Movie Review: “It’s A Disaster” – Funny, but Flavourless

Written by Tommy June 19, 2013

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“It’s A Disaster” is a film that got in over its head. The core elements are there, with great dialogue and characters, an emotional center, and a fun premise, but there just isn’t enough to keep the whole thing from dragging. This is a tiny film, taking place entirely in one house over the course of a day, and it’s a tall order to try to keep an audience interested in that for eighty-eight minutes. The film simply doesn’t cover enough new ground or do enough interesting things with its concept to keep you entertained all the way through, even if you find parts of it absolutely hilarious, like I did.

“It’s A Disaster” tells the story of four couples who end up trapped together in a house when their brunch is interrupted by the outbreak of a nation-wide disaster. Trapped in the house, and faced with their imminent deaths, the couples find their relationships tested like never before.

They are begging me to make a “Disaster” joke in the title. But I won’t, dang it.

The biggest strength of “It’s A Disaster” is definitely the dialogue. When this movie is on it is absolutely red-hot.  It’s fast paced and witty, and all the characters are unique and well realized. Sometimes the dialogue will be moving so fast it feels like you’re being told multiple jokes at once, and you’re really not sure which one you’re laughing at anymore It’s a mixture of dark comedy and awkward, curb your enthusiasm style humor, the kind that makes you go “eeeesssh.” The combination of typical “mundane” humour and the dark apocalyptic scenario is great.

The performances are wonderful too. David Cross works very well as the straight-man to all these weird characters, but while he starts off strong, it’s my opinion that Kevin Brennan steals the show as the easy-going Buck.  All the performances are very strong though, and the movie is at its best when the group splits up to accomplish something, and we see all the different pairs of actors bounce off each other. The entire cast has terrific chemistry.

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The biggest problem with this film is the plot and the pacing. It starts off strong, then begins to slow down as you realize that the writer’s are way more interested in telling jokes than they are in telling a story. Countless times, elements are introduced and then never appear again, they just cropped up to create a humorous situation. It’s fine for a comedy film to focus mainly on the jokes, but as the movie wears on you get fed up with all the funny stuff and just want something to happen. It feels like this was intended to be a sitcom, but it didn’t make the cut so they just took the pilot and added a bunch of unnecessary stuff to it. After the initial incident, “It’s A Disaster” turns into kind of a bore.

“The music is automated.” “No, I believe that’s Beethoven.”

Another issue I had is how they utilized the premise. It’s a great twist on the typical “group of people trapped in one location are forced to sort out their issues with one another” sitcom scenario. Usually it’s a blizzard, or storm; here it’s the apocalypse. Unfortunately, nothing very interesting is done with this great concept. Usually it’s the same old jokes that you’d normally find in an episode of “Frasier” or something. There are exceptions though, most notably the great scene where they are forced to deal with another couple who wants inside their air-tight home (maybe this will teach them to be on time for once,) but on the whole it feels like they could have done a lot more unique stuff with the imminent apocalypse. It feels too samey for what should have been a totally different kind of comedy. There’s an attempt to stray away from normality with the little twist at the end, but like my point before it feels just kind of tacked on because it “sounded funny.”

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I liked “It’s A Disaster.”  The great writing and characters won me over, despite the problems with the story. I stayed interested purely because I wanted to hear more from them, rather than anything with the actual events or plot. “It’s A Disaster” is an ambitious failure, and those are my favourite kind of failures. Check it out if you care more about humour than stuff actually happening, and if you love David Cross, because he’s great in this one.

 My Rating: 7.5/10

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