An unusually eventful “couples brunch” among a neurotic group of bright, colorful friends is rudely interrupted by news of imminent apocalypse in It’s A Disaster, a droll social comedy about a party that takes a number of strange turns. It’s a smart, dark, tonally tricky affair about what happens when the bonds that hold civilization together come apart, whether through the impending divorce of a couple whose union helps keep a disparate group of friends together, or through some manner of dirty bomb or zombie attack.
David Cross leads a uniformly terrific ensemble cast as an outsider who attends a brunch as the date of commitment-phobe Julia Stiles, and enters into her clique of squabbling, flirting, cheating friends. The fragile ecosystem of the group’s complicated, fraught longstanding friendships is rocked to the core with the revelation that one of the couples is divorcing. But questions of friendship and fidelity take a backseat to survival when it becomes apparent that mankind is staring down an extinction-level crisis.
It’s A Disaster begins as a smartly written, expertly acted comedy of manners about an oblivious bumbler—underrated straight man Cross, in one of his best film roles—who ends up stumbling onto a never-ending series of conversational landmines. He gingerly attempts to avoid offense, but Stiles’ friends bring a lot of painful emotional baggage to the get-together. The film grows darker and more meditative once the apocalypse sneaks into the frame and the friends attempt to make the most of what little time they have left, whether that means getting wacked on homemade Ecstasy or slipping out in a desperate, ill-considered quest for survival predicated entirely on secondhand information gleaned from zombie movies and a television show. It’s A Disaster is lively and assured before a third-act twist takes the film in an even more bracingly bleak direction. The twist is one tonal shift too many, but the film otherwise manages to find the levity, as well as the pathos, in the prospect of total annihilation.