A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What 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.
- Parents say
- Kids say
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?
Writer-director Todd Berger 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.
Talk to your kids 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?
- In theaters: April 12, 2013
- On DVD or streaming: June 4, 2013
- Cast: America Ferrera, David Cross, Julia Stiles
- Director: Todd Berger
- Studio: Oscilloscope Pictures
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Friendship
- Run time: 88 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: language including sexual references, and some drug content
- Last updated: March 13, 2020
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