Eagle vs. Shark, a quirky romantic comedy from New Zealand, arrives on DVD on Tuesday. Most easily compared to a slightly more realistic Napoleon Dynamite, the movie benefits from some pretty weird characters and situations but suffers from the fact that it is essentially a not-as-funny version of that film.
The movie stars Loren Horsley as Lily, a lonely fast food worker who has a crush on a man named Jarrod (Jemaine Clement). Jarrod isn't particularly handsome or intelligent, and in fact he's about as smart as a lump of bricks. His passion is in video games and pretty girls, and while he doesn't find Lily particularly pretty, they get involved in an awkward relationship nonetheless. When Lily goes to visit Jarrod's folks, however, Jarrod dumps her, leaving her stranded with a family that is a lot more sane than he.
The movie is pretty much like Napoleon Dynamite only with a more romantic slant and not as funny. You can tell writer/director Taika Cohen is trying to capture the same goofiness of Dynamite, but only succeeds somewhat. The movie is entertaining in a fluffy way, and Cohen captures the cuteness of the pairing of the two, but the novelty wears off halfway through. There's an absurdness to the picture that draws some laughs, but there's nothing here that captivates or engages. The only true memorable scene is one where Jarrod attempts to beat up a crippled bully from his childhood years, but otherwise there isn't anything particularly catchy here.
I don't know whether to recommend this film or not. Those of you who really liked Napoleon Dynamite would most likely be the target audience for Eagle vs. Shark, but then again, the movie really doesn't compare, both in originality and story. Eagle vs. Shark is more grounded, but that hurts Cohen's ability to make the truly quirky comedy he clearly wanted to make.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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