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EAGLE VS SHARK, 2007
Movie Reviews!

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EAGLE VS SHARK MOVIEEAGLE VS SHARK, 2007
Movie Reviews

Directed By Taika Cohen

Starring Loren Horsley, Jemaine Clement, Joel Tobeck, David Fane


Review by Christopher Upton


SYNOPSIS:

Two misfits end up together thanks to a combination of rejection and costume parties. However, there romance falters when Jarrod reveals that he has to travel home to settle a score with a school bully.

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REVIEW:

The Flight of the Conchords have managed to create one of the best folk rock parody bands ever with their HBO show, but when they have tried to transfer from the TV they havenít had much luck on the big screen. This is probably because their follow up feature to the program, Diagnosis: Death could be called disappointing if you were being generous. Fans of the duo would be much better served looking at the early work here of Jemaine, one half of the duo, and Conchords director Taika Cohen- a film about the nerdiest romance around.

Lily, Loren Horsley, is a lonely fast food restaurant worker who is lacking in the friends department and spends her evenings at home where she lives with her brother. There is a ray of hope in Lilyís life though and it visits the burger bar every day at the same time; that ray of hope is Jarrod. Because of being in a similar situation to Lily in the cool stakes, Jarrod is rejected by Lilyís attractive co-worker and ends up with Lily herself at his animal themed costume party.

In one of the strangest and least arousing sex scene ever the two of them, dressed as a Shark and an Eagle respectively, find each other and form a relationship. It isnít long though before Lily finds out about Jarrodís troubled past with a bully, something he reminds her of quite a lot once its out there. Being supportive she follows him his hometown to sort this problem out and maybe get closer to him. Unfortunately, because of Jarrodís obsessions the relationship becomes strained and Lily has to fight to work out whether Jarrod is the love she has waited for.

On paper this film isnít particularly original, in fact its one of the most popular storylines ever created. Itís only when the characters are on-screen that you realise how different this film is to other romantic outings. The characters arenít beautiful, theyíre ordinary and they look like a lot of people on the streets, as such they are a much more appealing couple. There is genuineness to the characters that director Taika Cohen manages to capture expertly.

The leads arenít played with the sort of self-aware geek chic that is present in films like Juno. Instead they are oblivious to how the world sees them, which makes them a particularly endearing and a compelling story to follow. While the characters arenít particularly attractive theyíre much more attractive than the world around them. While Lilyís naivety means she is mostly oblivious to how nasty everyone is around her at work, it means her world is one you want to get involved with much more.

The main reason these characters are so relatable is because of the performances of Jemaine Clement and Loren Horsley. Lily is so sweet and na‘ve, and Horsley invests so much in the character that you canít help yourself falling for her by the end of it. In contrast Jarrod is so over-the-top irritating that you wonder how anyone could stand to be in his company for more than a few minutes. But they work together because of the awkwardness they both constantly exhibit, like difficult jigsaw pieces you just have to hammer together.

Itís a difficult watch if you like your romances pacey, as sometimes it can feel like things are moving so slow that itís positively glacial. But then, when the underplayed jokes finally hit it has a much greater effect and often creates huge laughs. There is a definite down-to-earth feel to Eagle Vs. Shark as a whole, the settings arenít extraordinary and the events play out in rather unremarkable arenas (except for a viciously un-pc ending scene).

This means that a lot of the humour comes from these average places, grounding the film, and it also means that you arenít expecting anyone to run through an airport at the end with a bunch of flowers; youíd be lucky to find such local amenities as an airport where the characters are. There is a particularly brilliant scene that takes place in the bedroom of one of Jarrodís friends, the best computer hacker in town, barely manages to start up his decrepit computer before adult films infest the screen and he is forced to abandon all hope of using it for anything constructive.

A lot of the humour is in this vain and seems like a self-conscious joke on the place the characters, and the actors themselves call home. Like in The Flight of the Conchords, New Zealand is seen as an amazingly quaint place which civilisation has had trouble penetrating and its only major export is Lord of the Rings. In fact a strange sort of national pride is stamped all over the film, it certainly takes pride its scenery and while it makes fun of the people from there, it seems to be done with a lot love.

The film is a quaint Indie film, and it manages to be hilarious and quirky without overplaying the latter- a particularly difficult skill. It can be a bit slow at times, but ultimately itís an endearing look at a stranger-than-average love, a postcard to a country and itís a consistently enjoyable and hilarious mixture of both.

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