Apocalypse Now? 92Y Tribeca Screening, Q&A

From left, Erinn Hayes, Blaise Miller, Julia Stiles, David Cross, America Ferrera and Jeff Grace in a scene from "It's A Disaster."

The Mayan Apocalypse didn’t hit Friday night but Jeff Grace was still suspicious when he arrived at 92Y Tribeca for an advanced screening of his apocalyptic comedy, “It’s A Disaster.” “We might only have a few hours left,” the film’s co-star and producer quipped, “so we thought we should spend them doing a Q&A.”

The film, which will be released in the spring, was shown as the closing act for 92Y’s Doomsday festival. When asked about people’s fascination with the end of the world, Grace could only shrug. “I don’t know why it’s such a romantic concept,” he mused. “Why do we always want to be reminded of our temporary status on earth?”

“It’s A Disaster” tackles that very question. The film centers around a Sunday brunch with four couples, who find themselves trapped together after learning that a chemical weapon has been unleashed on the U.S. Emotions fly, as conflicting personalities clash. Tracy (Julia Stiles) and Glenn (David Cross) are only on their third date and hopeful for the future while Emma (Erin Hayes) and Pete( Blaise Miller) are headed towards divorce. Lexi (Rachel Boston) and Buck (Kevin Brennan) are free spirited and wild, while Hedy (America Ferrera) and Shane (Grace) have grown weary after a six-year engagement.

“[Writer and director] Todd Berger wanted to show four different stages of relationships,” Grace explained, “and on top of that, eight stages of panic.” These stages of panic display themselves in many, often amusing, ways. Hedy downs Scotch and decides to brew her own Ecstasy. In another room, Lexi and Buck proposition Glenn for a threesome.

As the four couples grapple with the notion that life is about to end, they slowly come to terms with their own relationships. In one of the film’s most touching scenes, Tracy and Glenn contemplate what would have happened to them after their third date. They decide on a destination wedding, how many kids they would have had and then clink their wine glasses, saying cheers to a “good life.”

It’s a far quieter, funnier and more introspective disaster movie than one might expect. Grace deemed it “decidedly unbadass,” unlike other apocalyptic films. “In this movie, no one knows what to do.”

“We’re a soft generation,” he said, “We’ve been very blessed…so we went at the film from that perspective.”

While the characters spend most of the movie confused, fighting and helpless, they do manage, finally, to sit down together and bond over one another’s secret admissions—some twisted, some funny. (“I f—ing loved the movie “Love Actually,” the heavily tatooed Buck declares.)  Sure, the end isn’t really near, Grace acknowledged. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t some lessons to be learned.

“Not to be too sentimental,” he said, “but, you know, live your life.”

In other words, avoid regret, much like the movie’s character, Tracy, fails to do. “I’ve never been to Europe, I’ve never been in love,” she says wistfully. “I’ve never watched ‘The Wire.’”