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Poster Lab: It’s a Disaster

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Poster Lab: <em>It’s a Disaster</em>

Maya Entertainment wants YOU to see It’s a Disaster, a new comedy releasing soon from the indie distributor. A couples laughfest cum doomsday yarn, the film is the second from The Scenesters writer/director Todd Berger, one-quarter of comedy troupe The Vacationeers, all four of whom act on screen this time around (Berger’s cohorts are Kevin Brennan, Blaise Miller, and Jeff Grace). Promotion of the movie takes a very American route, both in iconic design source and modern manipulation. The film’s poster is, natch, a nod to J.M. Flagg’s Uncle Sam recruitment sensation, which gets tinkered with, HazMat-style.

The plot synopsis reportedly goes like so: Berger and his funnymen perform opposite Julia Stiles, David Cross, America Ferrera, and Rachel Boston, in a story about four couples who gather at a house for brunch, only to wind up trapped as the apocalypse looms. Consider brunch and judgment day duly accounted for, as our suited patriot not only has protection against whatever biohazard threatens humanity, he also has that mimosa ready to toast the end of days. The design is the kind of fun, romantic mash-up that’s both tasteful and transgressive, and it’s enough to pique your interest in a film that otherwise seems like a bland amalgam of tropes.

An intimate tale of apparently well-off couples doesn’t seem the sort of venue to call for propaganda advertising, but if the approach is meant to reflect a certain all-American, class-conscious paranoia, then all the better. Certainly, the recruitment aspect is well-utilized, lifting viewer from mere patron to active participant in the story’s tongue-in-cheek armageddon. “Are you prepared?” asks the apropos tagline, reinstating the fusion of film and doomsday as common things for which to brace oneself.

If It’s a Disaster continues the trend of Earth-destruction movies reflecting the worst of times, then its poster perpetuates the latter-day practice of raping and repurposing commercial, pop-art classics. The image doesn’t just evoke spirited ads of days gone by (including, perhaps unwittingly, French posters for champagne), it plays with the Banksyan act of hijacking established work (a method that, in fact, is more indicative of the art of Thierry Guetta, the buffoonish opportunist highlighted in Banksy’s Exit Through the Gift Shop). It’s an upended promo for a downtrodden public, and speaking of street art, the visible creases, albeit unoriginal, suggest a frantic citizen peeled it off a telephone pole before folding it up and shoving it into his pocket. Perhaps he planned to hold it for posterity, one last hopeful effort in the face of an extinction-level event.