January 6, 2014 -- This film is very similar to one released a couple of months later, “This is the End,” which was very successful and received a much wider distribution and a much bigger advertising campaign. I actually liked this version of people trapped in a house facing death better, because the humor is witty, adult-oriented and subtle and the characters are likeable. In “This is the End,” the characters are selfish and mean-spirited. The humor is gross, juvenile and vulgar.
In this film, a group of friends in Los Angeles gather for a “couples brunch” only to discover they are trapped in the house when the city is attacked with deadly nerve gas. The announcement of the attack comes midway through the brunch when a neighbor comes knocking -- dressed in a hazardous materials suit and respirator.
As you would expect in this situation, the stress and confinement bring out all sorts of conflicts and secrets are revealed. The hosts of the party, Pete (Blaise Miller) and Emma (Erinn Hayes of “The Watch”), married for years, reveal that they are getting divorced.
Other guests include the loopy Lexi (Rachel Boston of “500 Days of Summer”) and her free-wheeling husband, Buck (Kevin Brennan of “The To Do List”) fussy Tracy (Julia Stiles of “Silver Linings Playbook”) and her subdued new boyfriend, Glen (David Cross of “Kill Your Darlings”) obsessive-compulsive Shane (Jeff Grace) and science whiz Hedy (America Ferrera of “End of Watch”) who have been engaged for years.
All of the people at the party have hidden agendas, pet peeves and intertwined secrets. They all manage to misunderstand every single thing anyone says to them and they sometimes turn that into an argument. In other words, they all miscommunicate exactly the same way. This quarrelous miscommunication also provides ample opportunities for humor.
The only normal person in the group is Glen, a teacher who is quiet, courteous and easy-going. In the end, however, it turns out he also has a hidden agenda which leads to a very funny, appropriate, ending to the film. Even though all these people are petty, conniving and argumenative, they are also strangely endearing and vulnerable. The only character who seems phony is Shane, who acts like he is in some movie other than the one he is in.
The acting is solid and the script, by writer-director Todd Berger (who also appears in the movie in the hazmat suit) is witty and clever. It provides ample insight into these strange characters. The script uses believable plot devices to peel away the layers of secrets the characters hold, and to set up some very funny situations. Some of the humor is very dark, but you have to expect that with apocalyptic comedy. This film rates a B.
Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in digital formats, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.