Eagle Vs Shark

"Weak"

Eagle Vs Shark Review


The only measure of a comedy is whether you laughed, and how hard. As comedies go, the Kiwi import Eagle vs Shark, doesn't register more than halfway up the comedy meter. Writer-director Taika Waititi manages a sprinkle of chuckles, a couple of guffaws, but, mostly, while watching it, I felt as if I were a polite judge at an audition, unable to leave or bark "Next!" for fear of hurting its feelings. It's offbeat, I'll give you that. Terminally offbeat. But it rests a bit too comfortably on its geeked-out charms and sweet intentions to ever really carve out an "attitude" for itself, or come up with enough inventive ideas to make it worthwhile.

Everything Eagle vs Shark tries to do, Napoleon Dynamite already did, and did better, funnier. Dynamite has proven itself as the contemporary standard-bearer for this sort of comedy -- the absurdist geek romance, deadpan in tone, and peopled with quirky but sweet-natured characters.

Like Dynamite, Eagle vs Shark involves romantic pair-ups, and a plot riffing on teenage redemption. In Dynamite, said redemption was about winning the high-school class presidency. Eagle vs Shark's concerns a video-game store clerk's fanatical vow of revenge against the bully who tormented him in high school. Sporting a god-awful mullet and the dorkiest of glasses (standard geek-wear, I should say; Dynamite featured an impossibly bad afro), the slack-jawed Jarrod (Jemaine Clement) takes up with Lily (Loren Horsley), the wallflower-shy burger-joint cashier who's always had a mad -- and inexplicable -- crush on him. They're years removed from youth, but both bear losses from then that continue to haunt them; Lily lost both her parents as a child, and now lives with her cheery brother Damien (Joel Tobeck), while Jarrod's brother's death is what informs his revenge-seeking.

As soon as the romance is established, Waititi shifts into themes of family as Lily accompanies Jarrod to his home, where he travels to mete out his payback. Everyone here is expectedly off their rocker -- Jarrod's sister and brother-in-law are hapless entrepreneurs, his wheelchair-bound father (Brian Sergent) is continually pissed-off, and his dim-bulb friend Mason (Cohen Holloway) is one step above certified retardation. If you're aiming for "quirky," this is a potential goldmine, but it's "fool's gold" we get as Waititi never ventures too far from the safe zone, and retreads jokes that are about as funny as a middling SNL sketch. And what is Vinny (Morag Hills), Jarrod's nine-year-old daughter, in all her quirky, bespectacled cuteness, if not an easy bid for as much, a la Little Miss Sunshine or Jerry Maguire, for God's sake?

Once home, Jarrod spends his time gearing up for his big fight, all karate-chops and nunchucks, and bidding for his estranged father's affection. The plot trajectory takes us through the fracturing of Jarrod and Lily's romance, a romantic interloper in the guise of Jarrod's late-brother's fiancée, and Lily's discovery of the skeletons in Jarrod's closet, before the warm-and-fuzzy third-act, boy-girl/father-son make-up.

Waititi's strategy is to populate the story with as many odd ducks as he can, rather than cut deep, and create unique comic situations. There's the occasional surprise (the reveal of Jarrod's bully being the standout), a clever sight gag or two, but these are few, far between. At best, this is a pleasant affair, but a drab, predictable one, with king-geek Jarrod a stultifying bore. Rising above the material is Horsley, bright-eyed and winning as Lily. She's the movie's comic and emotional anchor. More than once, Waititi relies on her comic timing and acuity to find his scene's pulse. Without her, Eagle vs Shark could well have been D.O.A.

4:1 odds on Eagle.



Eagle Vs Shark

Facts and Figures

Run time: 88 mins

In Theaters: Thursday 30th August 2007

Box Office USA: $0.1M

Distributed by: Miramax Films

Production compaines: Whenua Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 54%
Fresh: 57 Rotten: 49

IMDB: 6.9 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: , Ainsley Gardiner

Starring: Loren Horsley as Lily, as Jarrod, as Damon, Rachel House as Nancy, David Fane as Eric Elisi, as Doug Davis

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Imperium Movie Review

Imperium Movie Review

First-time filmmaker Daniel Ragussis takes an unusual approach to this thriller. Since it's based on...

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

Like a 10-years-later follow-up to 28 Days Later, this small British thriller takes a refreshingly...

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

Director Antoine Fuqua brings his usual fascination with violence to this remake of the iconic...

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

As it's been 12 years since the last Bridget Jones movie, expectations aren't too high...

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

A-list director Ron Howard worked with the surviving Beatles to assemble this engaging documentary, which...

Blair Witch Movie Review

Blair Witch Movie Review

It's been 17 years since The Blair Witch Project shook up the cinema and created...

Anthropoid Movie Review

Anthropoid Movie Review

Outside the Czech Republic, few people know about Operation Anthropoid, a spy mission in 1943...

Advertisement
Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

From Laika (The Boxtrolls), this is one of the most beautiful, sophisticated animated films in...

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

An offbeat comedy-drama with a timely kick, this charming family road trip takes on some...

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Sicario screenwriter Taylor Sheridan delivers another fiercely intelligent, engaging story that maintains high suspense while...

The 9th Life of Louis Drax Movie Review

The 9th Life of Louis Drax Movie Review

With heavy overtones of Hitchcockian mystery and intrigue, this stylish thriller is the enjoyably melodramatic...

Kickboxer: Vengeance Movie Review

Kickboxer: Vengeance Movie Review

The 1989 Muay Thai action movie Kickboxer starred a young Jean-Claude Van Damme, who pops...

Julieta Movie Review

Julieta Movie Review

Iconic Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar is back with another powerfully complex female-centred drama, along the...

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

An astute satire of the pop music business, this raucous mock-documentary is consistently hilarious from...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.