EAGLE VS. SHARK
Written and Directed By Taika Waititi
Starring: Loren Horsley,
Jamaine Clemont, Brian Sergent
Craig Hall, Rachel House
Running Time: 1hr 34mins
Released by Miramax
Not only is it overwhelmingly refreshing to see a romantic comedy with leads who are not classic “movie star types,” it is a gust of sweet air to see a film that instead of trying to be that overused word, “quirky,” simply is. New Zealand writer and director Taika Waititi lovingly puts two utter misfits together and magic ensues in Eagle vs. Shark.
Lily (Loren Horsley) is such a downer, the manager of the fast food restaurant where she works ensures that when someone has to be let go, it is her. But before the fix is in, Lily has spied Jarrod (Jemaine Clement), whose hideous bowl haircut and prominent mole spell “geek” in big letters. (“Did you know we have the same mole?” she asks, adoringly. “What mole?” he replies.) Lily dresses like the eponymous shark and Jarrod the eagle at a sparsely attended costume party, where she earns his interest by coming in second to him playing a gory video game for those in attendance.
Their comically clumsy courting takes an abrupt turn when Jarrod goes back to his home with her, in order to wreak nerd vengeance upon a bully who terrorized him as a boy. Jarrod’s daffy loser family explains his arrogant incompetence and their growing affection for Lily, as well as a wonderfully surprising confrontation between Jarrod and the bully, lend marvelous depth to this unpredictable love story.
Waititi is as talented as his marvelous leads. Clement is to be seen on HBO’s upcoming Flight of the Conchords and has pompous cluelessness down cold. Nothing should be taken away from him but Horsley is absolutely thrilling to watch. She is hilarious, vulnerable, delicate, heartbreaking and graceful, and inhabits her role so fully, one yearns to see her again when she is off-camera. Her relentless pursuit of Jarrod is punctuated by wonderful bits of animation, cementing Waititi’s position as a Killer Komedy Kiwi.