Eagle Vs Shark (15)



Comedy (2007)
87mins NZ

Starring: Jemaine Clement, Loren Horsley, Brian Sergent
Director: Taika Waititi
Writer(s): Taika Waititi
Listings: London | Rest of UK and Ireland

Low budget comedy imagining a romance between two misfits in present day New Zealand. Lily has been madly in love with computer game fanatic Jarrod ever since he wandered into the Meaty Boy burger bar where she works. When Jarrod returns home to fight his schoolboy nemesis, Lily tags along, ingratiating herself to his eccentric and dysfunctional family.

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LondonNet Film Review
Eagle Vs Shark

Opposites attract in a most delightful way in Taika Waititi's quirky, low budget comedy, a labour of love for the New Zealand writer-director that celebrates the idiosyncrasies of the human condition...

Jarrod (Jemaine Clement) & Lily (Loren Horsley). Optimum ReleasingFrom the beautiful stop-go animation of the opening credits, Eagle Vs Shark refuses to pander to our expectations, propelling its mismatched central couple on a madcap journey of self-discovery that helps them to appreciate that "Life is hard but in between the hard bits there are some lovely bits." Waititi demonstrates a fine ear for dialogue, but he uses it sparingly - the excruciating, awkward silences, when characters struggle to say something meaningful and draw a blank, are just as important as their considered, heartfelt outbursts. These misfits are reflections of our own failings and insecurities. When the hapless hero despondently concedes, "I'm a loser, aren't I?" his unlikely soul mate responds in the most succinct and perfect way imaginable: "Doesn't matter."

The lady of few words is Lily Mackinnon (Loren Horsley), a shrinking violet who lives with her brother Damon (Joel Tobeck) and spends thankless days working in the local Meaty Boy burger bar, trying to tempt customers to try the new Crazy Burger, comprising one slice of bun between two layers of beef. Lily clings onto her sanity by writing sweet, little songs in her bedroom - "You are apples, I am tangerines. We are different fruit from the same tree," she trills - and by dreaming about shaggy-haired videogame salesman Jarrod Lough (Jemaine Clement), a regular customer with an identical mole on his top lip.

Lily (Loren Horsley) & Jonah (Brian Sergent). Optimum ReleasingUnfortunately, Jarrod harbours a crush on Lily's perky, blonde workmate and he woos her with an invite to his annual animal-themed party. "My friend has a helmet and he's going to let us chuck shoes at his head!" Jarrod explains excitedly. Lily gatecrashes the party with Damon in tow, dressed as a shark and a spider respectively, but Jarrod, wearing a molting bird costume, seems unimpressed: "I almost came as a shark and then I realized an eagle was slightly better." He is forced to take notice of Lily when she thrashes all-comers at his favourite videogame, Fight Man.

Romance blossoms and she agrees to accompany Jarrod to his hometown, where he must face a demon from his past: Eric Elisi (David Fane), the bully who made his childhood such a misery. "He's gonna reap what he sowed and it sure ain't wheat!" roars Jarrod. While her beau gets into serious training for the scrap, Lily ingratiates herself to his eccentric and dysfunctional family, including wheelchair-bound father Jonah (David Sergent), sister Nancy (Rachel House) and husband Doug (Craig Hall) who run a mail order cosmetics business, precocious daughter Vinny (Morag Hills) and best mate Mason (Cohen Holloway), a computer geek with a nasty virus on his out-dated PC.

Eagle Vs Shark is a painfully funny love story in a similar vein to Me, You And Everyone We Know and Napoleon Dynamite, with an off-kilter perspective on the world; a world in which a boy finds out a girl's address through breathtaking ingenuity. "I got my friend to ring up your work and say it was an emergency. You probably shouldn't go in there... they think you're dead."

Doug (Craig Hall) & Nancy (Rachel House). Optimum ReleasingFrom the first moment we see Horsley's misfit standing in front of her bedroom mirror, playing out imaginary conversations with Jarrod, we fall hopelessly in love with Lily. She is so sweet and innocent, and relentlessly optimistic despite all the misfortune and missed opportunities. Even her favourite joke - "What do you call the Emperor of farts?" - has an adorable, childlike quality. Clement's character grows on us steadily as he reveals chinks in his armour, mellowing from the angry young man who berates his sister, "You're a bitch and you're gonna die of diabetes!" to the sensitive soul with a creative streak and a penchant for novelty candles. "Probably sell these to Muslims," he says, holding up a Twin Towers candle. "This one for the Yanks," he continues, wielding a wax figure of President Bush. A burning Bush - cute.

The two leads bounce off one another so well. "How many girlfriends have you had?" asks Lily. "Five...," responds Jarrod. "Actually, eight... I forgot some," he lies, embarrassed by his lack of experience with the fairer sex. They might not be a perfect match, but Lily and Jarrod are unquestionably right for one another. Waititi directs with assurance, book-marking each chapter of the courtship with a lovingly crafted animation. The climactic fight, when Jarrod squares up to Eric, his family and friends standing by in moral support, is like the rest of the film - a knockout.

- Sam Cannon

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From Friday 17th August
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