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The “Greenberg” DVD cover promises a cheery rom com that’s not, you know, misanthropic at all.

The “Greenberg” DVD cover promises a cheery rom com that’s not, you know, misanthropic at all. (photo)

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Late last year, there was a kerfuffle over the “degaying” of the “Humpday” DVD cover. The theatrical poster featured a shirtless Mark Duplass and Joshua Leonard looking at each other in front of pink floral wallpaper. The DVD went instead for a blue backdrop and inserted Alycia Delmore between the two guys, apparently to convey the crucial message “THIS MOVIE IS NOT GAY.” And it’s not, but c’mon.

Film marketing has a long history of misdirection — to cut together a compelling trailer for a crappy movie is a minor miracle of craft in and of itself. The same goes for the fine graphic designers and marketers who try to put what they believe to be more audience friendly spins on movies, regardless of how accurate they are. When it comes to DVDs, a swap in tactic usually means however the movie was marketing in theaters, it was deemed inadequate.

07142010_greenbergdvd.jpgThe DVD cover for “Greenberg,” strictly speaking, isn’t “deceptive” — it doesn’t shoehorn in any small children, or use the dog from the movie to imply that Ben Stiller’s thorny little heart will be warmed by canine friendship. It’s misleading in a different way — the colored tiles framing everything look like nothing so much as a kids’ daycare center.

You don’t have to know very much about the psychology of colors to know that those peppy visuals, the faux-bashful-romantic-grinning shown by Stiller and Greta Gerwig (where in the world did they find a still of him smiling from the movie?) and the childish scrawl of the blurbs suggest something that’s tonally entirely different from what “Greenberg” actually is (i.e., black comedy for misanthropes).

My all-time favorite abuser in this category is the DVD for Gus Van Sant’s “Gerry,” an awesome movie that’s assuredly not for everyone, seeing as much of it is either Matt Damon and Casey Affleck walking through the wilderness or Damon and Affleck improvising hilarious dialogue that refuses to advance what little plot there is.

07142010_gerrydvd.jpgThe DVD, smartly, doesn’t mention any of this. What it does say: it’s a film by the director of “Good Will Hunting” and “Finding Forrester. It’s true, but doesn’t deal with the fact that Van Sant’s commercial work in no way resembles what he explores in “Gerry,” “Elephant” and his other, more personal, films.

The image is of a still of two unrecognizable men running in front of a picturesque sunset, and the back copy summarizes the film as “an intense life-and-death journey that will test the strength of human endurance and ultimately, their friendship!” Which is, as an act of interpretation, superb, but has nothing to do with the experience of watching the movie.

I can’t believe there’s a greater example of DVD misdirection. But perhaps you know of one and can share below.

[Photos: “Greenberg,” Focus, 2010; “Gerry,” Miramax Home Entertainment, 2002]

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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