Dorky romantic comedies have been around forever. Usually there is nothing I can’t stand more than some movie telling me how people fall in love when it never happens like that. Like a street walker falling in love with a rich guy or the nerd getting the cheerleader or a dozen people having sex with some girl named Jenna. (well maybe on the last one) Love is mystical and special but it rarely has any set pattern that makes sense. So what would happen when I watched a dorky little New Zealand romantic comedy that featured two people in animal costumes? Hopefully not the norm.
Lily (played by Loren Horsley) is in love with Jarrod (played by Jemaine Clement). She works at a local burger joint (Meaty Boy) asc a cashier. Jarrod comes in everyday at lunch but Lily rarely gets to wait on him since he has a crush on another employee. Opportunity knocks when Jarrod gives Lily an invitation to go to an animal costume party. She decides to go as a shark. There at the party she participates in the “Fight Man” tournament which is a video that vaguely looks like Way of the Warrior (an old 3do fighting game) and Mortal Kombat. Somehow she makes it to the final where she faces Jarrod (dressed as an eagle) in the final challenge. However, she becomes lost in Jarrod’s eyes and loses out to him.
Afterwards, Jarrod and Lily decide to have sex. After a few weeks, he tells her that he has to go back to visit his hometown to take on the bully that has tormented him throughout his youth. With the help of Lily’s brother Damien (played by Joel Tobeck), they travel to Jarrod’s hometown. They meet his family and then Jarrod starts to train for his epic fight against the bully who never saw it coming. Along the way, this anything but a fairy tale romance takes some unexplained turns but blossoms into something that can’t even be explained.
The first easy comparison that comes to mind is that of Napoleon Dynamite. Jarrod is a dead ringer for him. I expect to see him dancing any second and come back from training with an afro. Jemaine Clement plays Jarrod so wonderfully that in typical Dynamite fashion, you can’t stand him by the end of the story. But what makes you actually like the story is the dorky love that Lily exhibits in the flic. She could care less that Jarrod is a loser or that Jarrod spends most of the film trying to live up to the memory of his dead brother who everybody in the family still idolizes. She loves him in spite of his self. She learns to love his family and they learn to love her.
The appeal of this film goes in two directions. One for bringing the family together. They start out completely dysfunctional. By the end, still with issues they seem more united and willing to work together. The second appeal is of the dorky love story. Deep in our heart, we probably know that this might not work. But it’s the charm that keeps us coming back. They have their first sexual encounter after a video game tournament. How dorky and sweet is that? Okay, so being a gamer for 25 years and having a gamer g/f makes me somewhat biased; but it’s really really sweet to see these two. They aren’t perfect but they think the other one is. Kinda like my current relationship and I imagine a lot of people’s relationships out there.
The film is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The color is very good and the scenery used around New Zealand is as usual pretty breathtaking. The characters aren’t supposed to be really handsome or pretty but they are real. The other area of note is the stop animation they used for simulating a couple of apple cores as our budding couple. Some really interesting concepts here and it is shown quite nicely.
Ahhh, New Zealand films. Accents, how I love thee. When I can understand thee. The film is presented in 5.1 English and Spanish Dolby Digital. The surrounds are used kinda bleakly here and I can’t actually say dialog is clear. The accents are rather hard to understand and sound muffled too. However, the background music (performed primarily by The Phoenix Foundation) is very strong and serene. Subtitles are also provided thankfully for English, Spanish and French.
- Automatic Trailers: The Truth.Com, Blu-Ray, Wall-E, and Gone Baby Gone.
- Deleted Scenes: Thirteen of these suckers. One of the better mixtures of deleted scenes I have seen in a while. Ones that should have stayed, ones that were right to go, and ones you could believe either argument for. Also we get the director Taika Waititi going over why they were cut in the first place.
- Outtakes 2:48: The usual assortment of silly stuff on camera. The cast seem to very much have a family feel and good nature around the camera.
- Audio Commentary: Director Taika Waititi is the primary speaker for the commentary and does a very good job. But the most entertaining thing about this commentary is that he actually calls Loren Horsley and explains the scenes so that she can comment on them. Then in the middle, she needs to go pick up her mum. No joke, and she comes back near the end of the film to finish up with Taika. A very nice and charming commentary like the film.
- The Phoenix Foundation: “Going Fishing” Music Video 5:18: The music video to the theme song of Eagle vs Shark. It’s a nice little tune, the video actually has a theme and isn’t just strict cut footage.
- Sneak Peeks: Becoming Jane, Golden Door, and No Country for Old Men.
Lately, I’ve been having a lot of open-minded moments when watching films. I go in expecting one thing, but come out with a completely different picture. Eagle vs Shark is a great example. I think Napoleon Dynamite and automatically want to loathe it. I come out and think what a wonderful and charming love story. I mean we might not like Jarrod’s character (but still love his quirky lines) but we root for Lily and we root for the relationship between each other and between the family. We hope that it continues to grow until the end of the time. The disc is also very good, supporting good video and audio. The extras are well done, not too much, not too little in supporting this film. Eagle vs Shark demonstrates that in each of us exists something not perfect, but when you find true & mutual love, they want to be with you anyways.
- DvdVerdict.com – “Thankfully, the longer the movie runs, the less absurd it gets and, slowly and surprisingly, becomes completely charming.”
- CurrentFilm.com – “”Eagle Vs. Shark” tries to pull together an engaging romantic comedy, but these characters are not very compelling, and the movie often seems like a tough sit.”
- DvdMg.com – “Eagle comes with too much pseudo-clever baggage to be anything other than an insult to the viewer.”