In the abstract, It's a Disaster sounds so promising: A group of friends gather for their once-a-month "couples' brunch," and things go horribly wrong. Like, disastrously wrong, in a way that moves from clunky conversations and spousal disagreements to hazmat suits and corpses on the porch. Bringing this pitch-black indie comedy to life is a cast that enhances expectations, featuring a beloved comedy star (David Cross), a beloved TV star (America Ferrera), and a liked-okay movie star (Julia Stiles).

Unfortunately, pretty much all you need to know about It's a Disaster is communicated by its title. Written and directed by Todd Berger, the film is a self-defeating mishmash of styles, from sassy sitcom to dewy TV drama to half-baked farce, each of which is realized with all the depth of your average sketch-comedy troupe. Instead of relatable human behavior, we're given page after page of Berger's zingy dialogue, which is packed with the type of sassy phrasemaking that characterizes bad plays and Showtime's Weeds, turning every character into a thesaurus-wielding comedian. The kooky idiosyncrasies meant to humanize It's a Disaster's characters are well-worn clichés, and the honest energy the cast puts into Berger's DOA script is almost heartbreaking. Had these actors come together in a brunch scenario and improvised their way through the film's plot points, the result may have been something to see. As it is, run for your life. recommended

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