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Eagle vs Shark

14 August 07 words: Alison Emm
"Without being too Arthouse or try-hard there is an underlying poignancy that makes this more than just a comedy"

New Zealand. What springs to mind is Lord of the Rings, rugby and long-beaked birds. Not especially known for its home grown films. Eagle vs Shark’s initial draw for me was that the leading man, Jemaine Clement, is one half of the comedy duo Flight of the Conchords. They have kept me amused on more than one occasion, so by association I thought this film might be worth a watch. I wasn’t wrong.

Lily is an awkward, shy fast food worker with a crush on Jarrod, one of her regular customers. Jarrod is a legend in his own mind; a computer store worker with the most awesomely bad haircut I have seen in a long time. They are both teenagers trapped in adult form in a world where impressing someone is down to video game skills and posturing.

It’s obvious that they are a match made in heaven. but it’s only when Lily attends Jarrod’s Animal Party that you know that this could be true love. He is an eagle and she a shark (in terms of fancy dress of course , this isn’t Pixar). Their physical and metaphorical journey together begins with a return to Jarrod’s hometown to settle an old score that has become an obsession. Lily and Jarrod’s families add to the mix in a unique way that only your nearest and dearest can.

As the title suggests, there are Kung Fu references a-plenty, but neither these nor the love element are rammed down your throat. Interspersed throughout the film are some stop motion animation scenes that give away the film's indie roots - a little twee for my liking, but not offensive. Without being too Arthouse or try-hard there is an underlying poignancy that makes this more than just a comedy, yet the film never allows itself to become morbid or overly melancholic.

Eagle vs Shark
embraces its geek characters' oddities without condescension. The appeal is that you know people who are a little bit (or a lot, if you’re being honest) like our anti-heroes. There is no end-scene makeover, no trite moral conclusion -  just tracksuits and bad dancing. If you were to ask Jarrod, he would tell you this film is a story of a tortured hero on a high-action mission to avenge the villains from his past with the power of Kung Fu. Dammit, he’s so complex. Lily, on the other hand, might describe it as a story of love and loss; a journey of emotional exploration. “Life is hard, but in between the hard bits there are some lovely bits.”

Don’t expect the fast-paced, continuous dialogue favoured by a lot of American comedies and sitcoms. The direction allows time for the acting to lead and capture you, with emphasis on facial expressions and physical mannerism as much as the script. Above all else this is a comedy, well-written with some cracking lines that are delivered to perfection. You’ll laugh and then feel guilty…but it will make you laugh.

Eagle Vs Shark website

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