It's a Disaster



Dark end-of-the-world comedy is witty but mature.
  • Review Date: April 11, 2013
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 2013
  • Running Time: 88 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Not a message movie, but it does explore issues related to marital happiness and unconditional friendship.

Positive role models

No one comes off particularly well -- although, for all their flaws, the two married couples overcome revelations of adultery to reconcile under extreme circumstances.


An unknown invasion has released a toxin that's sure to kill people. A husband threatens to punch another man.


Several references to sex and adultery. It turns out a married couple had committed adultery with their best friends, another married couple. One couple has sex (they're shown before and after but not during) and makes a jokey proposition to someone to engage in a threesome. A woman makes a joke that two other women were upstairs exchanging sexual favors.


Strong language throughout, including "f--k," "bitch," "a--hole," "p--y," and more.


Brands mentioned or featured include Apple, AT&T, a PT Cruiser, Adderall, Volkswagen, TGI Friday's. X-Men and other comic books are also referenced a bunch of times.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Lots of drinking of wine, scotch, whiskey, and beer. A woman recounts how she and her husband spent the previous night doing cocaine and partying. A chemist makes a homebrew of Ecstasy with a bunch of prescription and over-the-counter pharmaceuticals in the house.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that It's a Disaster is a dark comedy about four couples who come together for brunch just as the world is about to end. Since most of the characters are in their early 30s, there's lots of mature conversation, complete with strong language (including "f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," and more), as well as innuendo and discussion of sex, drugs, adultery, and marriage. As circumstances become catastrophic, all the relationships are strained, one couple has sex (viewers only see them in bed covered by sheets), someone makes a home brew of the drug Ecstasy, and one man looks for makeshift weapons. Because of the intense subject matter and relationship themes, It's a Disaster is best for adults and mature teens.

What's the story?

IT's A DISASTER is a dark comedy about an unforgettable brunch. Tracy (Julia Stiles), a doctor and the perpetually single friend of her group, is on her third date with Glen (David Cross), a history teacher. She's taking him along to a long-established couples' brunch with three other duos: responsible married homeowners Emma (Erinn Hayes) and Pete (Blaise Miller); their married musician besties, Lexi (Rachel Boston) and Buck (Kevin M. Brennan); and perpetually engaged chemistry teacher Hedy (America Ferrera) and her comic-book-obsessed fiance, Shane (Jeff Grace). Before the brunch begins, the guys want to check out the University of Texas game, but the TVs don't work. And Shane is desperate to figure out whether he's won an eBay auction for an X-Men issue, but the Internet is out -- what's happening? Soon a neighbor in a Hazmat suit comes over to explain that the city is under siege, and a biological weapon has been released into the atmosphere. From then on, brunch turns into not just a figurative disaster, but a literal one as well.

Is it any good?


With It's a Disaster, writer-director Todd Berger has managed to create a sharply crafted character study under the microscope of a familiar social situation that quickly spirals completely out of control. Cross, for once, plays the straight man -- the outsider trying to come to grips with the emotional baggage and off-putting dynamics of this clique of brunch-eating best friends. Stiles, who's usually a supporting character, shines as the single but "together" friend who can't stand how her friends assume that she ends relationships for no good reason.

Every couple gets a turn in the spotlight, and it becomes more and more obvious that the unknown disaster taking place is radically changing everyone in the house. When the fifth couple, always late to brunch, shows up at the door, Tracy refuses to let them in, because they've already barricaded the doors, and really, they should have been more considerate about punctuality over the years. Buck and Lexi, musicians who apparently have an open marriage, take the time to make love and strum their guitar and glockenspiel. And Ferrera gives a physical comedy performance as Hedy, who uses her chemistry skills to mix up a batch of homemade Ecstasy, because if there was ever a time to get high, it's when the end of the world is nigh. For a one-set dark comedy, It's a Disaster is a surprisingly entertaining, play-like ensemble film.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about dark comedies, and what the subgenre entails: making light of otherwise somber topics (in this case, everyone's imminent death). What are some other dark comedies? Who do they appeal to?

  • Why are disaster movies so fascinating? How is It's a Disaster different from ones that have more violence and an obvious villain?

  • What kinds of relationships and people do each of the couples personify -- from the one on their third date to the engaged-but-not-married duo to the two very different married couples?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:April 12, 2013
DVD release date:June 4, 2013
Cast:America Ferrera, David Cross, Julia Stiles
Director:Todd Berger
Studio:Oscilloscope Pictures
Run time:88 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:language including sexual references, and some drug content

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Adult Written bywonder dove November 23, 2013

Comedy? Not my taste...

It's a Disaster was an okay watch, but could've definitely done better. The comedy was not funny and I found it rather boring with couples constantly arguing throughout. The only normal character I found likable was Glen (David Cross) and possibly Tracy (Julia Stiles) wasn't too bad either. So two stars for the acting which was excellent. I don't think I'd ever watch this one again. In short, it's about Tracy who's a doctor who takes her boyfriend Glen with her to a Sunday brunch with her friends at a home who are all coupled but each have their own problems. As some time goes by, they finally realize the phones, TV and internet are out and mistake it as forgetting to pay the bills. When a neighbor in a jumpsuit and mask comes over, he explains that a biological weapon has been released which has knocked out the town's power. Disaster hits for the friends when they feel that it just may be the end of the world. Language is strong with several f-words, @sshole, sh*t and more. Violence includes arguing and bickering between friends and couples, a woman threatens to leave her husband, two dead people are shown outside with birds pecking at them at one point, in another scene we see the birds dead too (non-gory). Sexual content includes a joke about two female friends being lesbians with other sexual remarks said, references about cheating and how some of the characters have cheated in their relationship, a couple are seen in bed before and after sex, a couple offer another man to join them in bed but he declines, references to adultery. There is lots of drinking, cocaine talk, marijuana talk, a woman makes and takes ecstasy. This film is a bad influence for kids and younger teens! Mature 17+ viewers only.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 17 years old Written byBestPicture1996 October 3, 2013

A hipster apocalypse!

"It's a Disaster" is for sure a premise movie, but it's not too drawn out with its brief 90 minute run time. It's a very diverse set of characters (well not physically, but you know what I mean) and a background of love, marriage and Armageddon, with a rather bizarre twist at the end, but it plays along with this movie, which I could easily see being transformed into a play with its minimal setting. I'd like to have seen a little more done, but it's a little thought provoking and a good film to see before brunch.
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking


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