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Review: 'It's a Disaster' is a wry take on the small-minded

The world is ending, but that's no time to set aside pettiness. Stars include America Ferrera and Julia Stiles.

April 11, 2013|By Robert Abele
  • A scene from "It's a Disaster."
A scene from "It's a Disaster." (Picasa )

The primary joke of Todd Berger's wryly drawn indie comedy "It's a Disaster" is that even in the face of impending apocalypse, there's no accounting for taste, etiquette or worldview in the ones with which we'll be spending only a few final hours of existence.

The four couples gathering for regular Sunday brunch at the suburban home of long-standing hosts Emma (Erinn Hayes) and Pete (Blaise Miller) seem more flummoxed by the prospect of pettiness and secrets within their little group — which includes America Ferrera and Julia Stiles — than the growing catastrophe outside their door: as explained by a hazmat-suited neighbor, dirty bombs have gone off downtown.

Berger's Buñuel-meets-Apatow riff on cloistered bourgeois minds who can only ping off each other's neuroses when presented with evidence of society's collapse, is itself an odd bird. Berger's a sharp writer, nicely low-key as a chamber director and it's all well-acted — particularly by David Cross as the new guy (read: audience stand-in) whose deadpan reactions to everyone else's cliquish eccentricities help ground the comedy early on. But the movie elicits knowing smiles more than laughs, even as it reveals a boundless observational awareness about the beefs and slights that, for the small-minded, must feel like everyday Armageddons.

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"It's a Disaster." MPAA rating: R for language including sexual references, and some drug content. Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes. Playing at Los Feliz 3.

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