Trailer Mash 04-06-12

Between 'American Reunion' and Whit Stillman's 'Damsels in Distress,' it's a throwback week for opening movies

Above is your weekly 90-second summary of all that is worth seeing on release at your local dream house this weekend. (Mashup by Patrick Katz.)

"The truth is clear and it is brutal. America must be shocked back into consciousness." So declared sinister American industrialist Derek Jacobi in a quasi-fascist rant back in 2008 that was the web teaser for something called Iron Sky. Around the same time, another Iron Sky teaser appeared, the one with the tagline: "In 1945 the Nazis went to the moon. In 2018 they're coming back." While the former continues to elicit "Damn straight"s from irony-free YouTube commentators with Roger Sterling world views, the latter remains, by universal consent, the greatest teaser for a non-existent movie ever produced. It is so good, no movie could ever live up to it. And no subsequent trailer for an actual movie called Iron Sky could promise anything to surpass what might be imagined from those two minutes and 40 seconds, especially if by some mental osmosis they merged in your mind with the Jacobi teaser. So, it's hardly the filmmakers' fault that the trailer for Iron Sky is a bit of a disappointment. When deadpan gags such as a Lunar Bundestag in the shape of a swastika have given way to the Mare Tranquilitatis-broad comedy of having a Sarah Palin-alike president of the U.S., the jig is well and truly up. Even a Laibach score cannot wash away the disappointment. It all could have been so much more. There could have been a thousand years of sequels. But just because the latest trailer doesn't deliver on a four-year-long delusion doesn't mean the movie itself won't be a complete blast on its own sweet, dumbass terms.

How far away are the '90s? Never so far away as in the trailer for American Reunion, which returns to the characters of American Pie now that they have become tediously normal and old enough for inappropriate fantasies about high school girls. This is such a dreary and backwards-looking premise that it has the effect of temporally relocating the American Reunion present yet further into the past, somewhere in the mid- to late 1980s, it would seem. Gags about chugging shorts, parents copulating (poor, poor Jennifer Coolidge, so great in Herzog's Bad Lieutenant) and the relative pulchritude of office staff are at a level even James Belushi might have balked at.

After an absence of 13 years, welcome back Sir Whit Stillman. In an inspired union, Damsels in Distress teams him with Greta "Mumblecore Princess" Gerwig as the leader of a group of girls whose attempts to civilize their male East Coast college contemporaries fall foul of their own very certain ideas and ideals. If you remain in doubt about what to expect from the director of Metropolitan and The Last Days of Disco, the trailer is big on quotes from reviews that use phrases such as "utter delight" and "whimsical and witty." This is not a slasher movie.

Nor indeed is The Hunter, unless you count damage that may be inflicted through contact with Willem Dafoe's cheekbones. As he ages, Dafoe increasingly looks like a wood carving of himself. This is by no means a bad thing, especially when he's playing someone for whom a monomaniacal task, such as hunting an extinct creature, is the means by which he defines his relationship with the world. Hard to tell what's actually going on outside the interior life hinted at in this trailer, but the movie looks fantastic, the rugged Tasmanian hillsides a fine complement to Dafoe's awesome face.