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Film / Its A Disaster

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It's a Disaster! is a 2012 Black Comedy.

Singleton Tracy (Julia Stiles) is taking her new boyfriend Glen (David Cross) to the "Couples Brunch" that her friends, all of whom are in long-term relationships, have held weekly for years. Amidst Glen's awkwardness of meeting new people and getting to know them, a neighbor comes by in a HazMat suit, saying a horrible attack of the United States is underway and they all have to stay inside.


This film provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Better to Die than Be Killed: Glen turns out to be a fervent believer in this.
  • Butt-Monkey: Glen is continually walking into fraught situations between the couples who then turn on him angrily, much to his bemusement.
    Glen (returning from the toilet): Oh hey, I think the power's out.
    Emma: Shut the fuck up Glen! *beat* I am so sorry. I didn't mean that. I'm under a lot of stress right now, and I'm taking it out on you.
  • Blood from the Mouth: From Gordon, complete with Incurable Cough of Death when he and Jenny show up on the doorstep.
  • Bottle Episode: The entire movie takes place in the house or in the front yard. There are very, very few special effects.
  • Brick Joke:
    • The rather mundane opening credits are scored with Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture and are cut off directly before the famous finale. The Smash Cut that starts the ending credits begins with the triumphant finale.
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    • Each time an Establishing Shot of the house is used, Jenny and Gordon's dead bodies are there for a laugh.
  • Captain Oblivious: Everyone early on has a little bit of this, too wrapped up in couples brunch and not connecting the sirens, lack of internet/phone/television, and agitated dog walker to anything odd.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Or "ninja stars" in this case. Subverted. Shane gets the set Pete had lying around, but they never show up again.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Hal, the neighbor, owns a HazMat suit.
  • Creepy Crows: Some are shown feasting on Gordon and Jenny's corpses.
  • Closed Circle: The guests are forced to barricade themselves inside the house.
  • Commitment Issues: Between Hedy and Shane. Perhaps unusually, it's eventually revealed that it's actually Hedy who has doubts about commitment to the Manchild Shane.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: Shane.
  • Developing Doomed Characters: The disaster comes after quite a bit of characterization takes place.
  • Disaster Movie: It's a movie about people as a disaster is going on, but not a big explosions and carnage film.
  • Don't Ask: Tracy warns Glen not to ask about Shane and Hedy's marriage. Naturally, he walks straight into it.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Multiple times. Firstly, Pete is knocking back the whisky as Glen and Tracy arrive as he's about to announce his impending divorce to the group. When the disaster occurs, Hedy quickly figures out they have next to no chance of survival and raids the drinks cabinet and starts cooking up some homemade drugs. The film ends with the group failing to drink their poisoned wine.
  • Duct Tape for Everything: Duct tape is used to seal up the doors and windows against the Deadly Gas. Buck is utterly flabbergasted to learn it's duct tape and not duck tape.
  • Fond Memories That Could Have Been: Glen and Tracy discuss what their relationship might have been like had the disaster not happened.
  • Foreshadowing: Glen works at a school named after a saint, meaning his descent into Biblical apocalypse was not out of nowhere.
    • Also, Tracy insisting that all of her boyfriends turn out to be weirdos.
  • Fluffy Cloud Heaven: Buck is a big believer in this, much to the annoyance of Hedy.
    Hedy: ...yeah. So what you're saying is that when we die we're going to a place where 106 billion people are sitting around playing the harp. That would be really fucking annoying.
  • Go Out With A Bang: Both Lexi and her husband come on to Glen.
  • Ignored Vital News Reports: Averted; since they're so close to the disaster zone, by the time they're aware of the situation the protagonists have already lost mobile phone signals, internet and TV.
  • The Last Dance: The protagonists have perhaps a few hours to reconcile their lives and relationships, to varying degrees of success.
  • Left the Background Music On: As noted above, the 1812 Overture scores the opening credits. The first shot is of Glen turning off the stereo of the car, prompting a complaint from Tracy for not letting the song finish.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Lexi. Arguably a subversion since the film doesn't shy away from showing what a colossal pain she can be as a result.
  • No Antagonist: The story is the characters, not any Big Bad in particular. This is actually very upsetting to Shane in-universe, since if he's going to die, he'd rather do it knowing who killed him.
  • No Ending: The film simply ends with the protagonists sitting around the brunch table failing to commit suicide together via drugged wine. Twice.
  • No Sense of Personal Space: Lexi is very touchy-feely and makes Glen extremely uncomfortable.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: When the auto dialer calls from the Philippines, he is asked to turn on his TV to tell the guests what's going on. The guy is absolutely stunned by what he sees, but he just reacts and doesn't tell the protagonists - leaving them and the audience's imaginations to run wild.
    John from Liberty Financial: Holy shit! Is that the Golden Gate Bridge?!
  • Only Sane Man: Glen is the most practical thinker of the group, staying focused on dealing with the disaster situation. Turns out he's not as sane as he seems.
  • Precious Photo: Pete and Emma's shoebox full of photo booth pictures. Pete has told Emma he doesn't care about them, but secretly keeps one.
  • Reality Ensues: Consistently invoked by Hedy, a science teacher, and to a lesser extent by Tracy, a doctor.
    Shane: Are you... cooking meth?
    Hedy: That would take way too long and we'd need more ingredients. This is like a poor-man's ecstasy.
  • Red Shirt: Jenny and Gordon, who show up late to the party and to prove that the danger is indeed real.
  • Relationship-Salvaging Disaster: Pete and Emma are divorcing each other and when brunch is starting are bickering over how to break it to their guests. This is due to Emma having slept with Buck, and as the story is unfolds it becomes apparent that Pete has also slept with Lexi... but only as a result of Lexi and Buck's slightly bizarre relationship. By the end of the film Pete and Emma are back together... presumably briefly.
  • Rhetorical Question Blunder: All over the place, but especially from Glen who's unfamiliar with the group.
    Pete: Hal, why are you in a HazMat suit?
    Hal: ...are you kidding?!
    Pete: You really don't know you're in a HazMat suit?
  • Seinfeldian Conversation: The film starts with a conversation about how to listen to the radio and snowballs from there.
  • Shout-Out: The Emergency Broadcast System starts broadcasting numbers, Lexi exclaims "We're in Lost!"
  • Slept Through the Apocalypse: The couples are too busy bickering to notice the situation outside or even think there's anything strange about the power going out until Hal shows up in his HazMat suit asking for batteries.
  • Speech-Centric Work: As noted above, there's next to no special effects shots of the actual disaster itself and the drama centres solely around the characters attempting to deal with their impending fate.
  • Tampering with Food and Drink: Tracy discovers Glen lacing the wine with sleeping pills, muscle relaxants and rat poison. When quizzed about it, he flat out admits he's trying to Kill ’Em All.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Sandwich: Played with. The guests make it as far as nibbles before events overtake their appetites.
  • We Are Experiencing Technical Difficulties: The guests think this at first, due to the house already having patchy mobile reception, Pete having an ancient TV and, when the power goes out, Pete and Emma having an argument about one of them not paying the bill.
  • World Limited to the Plot: While there are occasional references to the larger world, folks are primarily concerned with everything in the house. Justified, since they're a pretty self-involved bunch to begin with.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Shane seems convinced that he's in either an Alien Invasion, a Zombie Apocalypse or World War III, or that radioactive fallout will mean they will soon become Mutants. Tracy tries and fails to convince him otherwise.


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