Overview: A routine couple’s brunch between friends goes wrong when they learn that the city has been contaminated with deadly nerve gas. Oscilloscope; 2012; Rated R; 88 minutes.

Where It Begins: This group of friends probably should have parted ways long ago, but it seems they’ve stuck together out of convenience. They’re keeping with the brunch tradition, despite their own issues. Boy, do they have issues. Hosts Emma (Erinn Hayes) and Pete (Blaise Miller) are secretly planning their divorce. Tracy (Julia Stiles) and Glen (David Cross), a new couple, don’t seem to know or even like each other very much. Hedy (America Ferrera) and Shane (Jeff Grace) have been engaged for six years with no wedding in sight. Lexi (Rachel Boston) and Buck (Kevin M. Brennan) are free-spirited, rebellious, and disorganized. Because the film takes the time to properly introduce these characters, when a neighbor shows up in a Hazmat suit to warn them about deadly nerve gas, the reactions – as strange as some of them get – are totally believable. 

Its-a-Disaster-trailer

Todd Berger: Writer, Director, Actor, Survivor

What’s It’s Really About: Sure, there’s an apocalyptic backdrop, but this isn’t really a movie about the end of the world. It’s a movie about people and the way that they handle times of crises. It’s a movie about relationships and the odd ways things come together or fall apart. Impending death forces these characters to actually confront their problems. It’s a catalyst for a fascinating examination of human nature, and crisp, clever writing makes it all a pleasure to watch.

Bless This Screenwriter: Because of convincing performances, we often forget that there is someone to thank for a script this excellent. So, before I forget: thank you, Todd Berger. You’ve written one hell of a screenplay. (He also directed the film and played the neighbor in the Hazmat suit. He’s an impressive dude.) Berger’s twist on an apocalyptic storytelling is a breath of clean, fresh air and the movie is genuinely funny. The characters are written to always feel real, but they’re colorful and offbeat enough that they can deliver hilarious lines. The jokes aren’t slapstick. They aren’t in your face. Instead, they’re subtle, reactive, and natural. Here’s one joke that stood out for me:

Tracy: You know, I never went to Europe. Never. Not once. I never even went to Montreal, which I hear is very European. I never  went scuba diving; I never went to the ballet. I’ve never been in love! I’ve never even watched The Wire!”

Glen: All of those things are overrated. Except for The Wire. That’s really good…

Wasn’t That Awesome?!: Yes, it was. Obviously it was. Now go watch It’s a Disaster, because writing like this deserves an audience.

Grade: A