Eagle vs Shark

Out Now On-Demand

Feature debut from Taika Waititi (Oscar nominated short film Two Cars One Night), starring Jemaine Clement from Flight Of The Conchords.

Follows the romance of two grown up uber-nerds. Lily (Loren Horsley) is a fast-food cashier and Jarrod (Clement) works in an electronics store. As they strike up an awkward relationship, Jarrod becomes side tracked by his training – in preparation of taking on his former high-school bully (David Fane).

Trailers

Awards

Best Director at the NZ Film Awards 2008.

Directed by

Written by

Comedy, Drama

93mins

Rating: M violence, offensive language

New Zealand

Official Site

flicks

The feature debut from New Zealand’s great-film-hope Taika Waititi (the shorts Two Cars One Night and Tama Tu), Eagle Vs Shark is a genuinely funny (sometimes smirk inducing and sometimes hilarious), uber-geek romance.

Jermaine Clement (Flight Of The Conchords) plays Jarrod - one of the biggest knobs ever committed to film. For some reason the equally nerdy, but hopelessly romantic & determined Lily (Loren Horsley, who really shines and is the film’s biggest revelation) has got the hots for him. They strike up a romance of sorts, over computer games, awkward conversations, dress up parties and a road trip to Jarrod’s hometown – where he begins training up for a fight with his high school bully (the always great David Fane).

One of the film’s best attributes, and the one likely to divide audiences, is the Jarrod character. Waititi really pushes it; Jarrod’s not just a dick but a real dick. Thrashing wildly about for respect, Jarrod has delusions of grandeur and a big problem with his confidence in equal amounts. He’s harsh, rude, immature, obnoxious, selfish and pathetic. He’s awesome.

It’s obvious the joy Waititi gets in creating the film’s world. It’s very Wellington and very small costal town NZ - but all with a slant. Noticeably there’s no sponsorhip here, which makes for nice touches like the fictional fast food chain (Meaty Boys) and a Maori fighter in a Mortal Kombat styled game. There are also cutesy, but fantastic looking, stop frame animation excursions.

NZ drama is rooted in isolation and a certain detachment; silent, interior-types who struggle to communicate with one another. Similarly, Waititi has found humour – perhaps quintessentially NZ – in awkwardness, loneliness and character insecurities. In this way Eagle Vs Shark, is a giant step forward for NZ comedy and unlike any other.

Unfortunately, it also feels curiously derivative. There are strong similarities with recent ‘new wave’ American comedies. The geek-dom resemblance to Napoleon Dynamite has been mentioned enough already, but probably more accurate is that both films take much from Wes Anderson’s earnest, deadpan characters and cartoon-strip like framing. These are the film’s most overt influences, and it isn’t a bad thing necessarily - everything is borrowed – it’s just very obvious here. But it makes for an interesting skew on this NZ experience, and Waititi succeeds to some desgree in making it his own.

The film loses its way towards the end in trying, I think, too hard to push an emotional resonance. Moments surrounding the climax of the romance and Jarrod’s problems with his family, were overly serious. The earnestness and sweetness is cranked up, and it comes off a tad corny: “life is hard but in between the hard bits there are some lovely bits”. It was a fun enough ride without the message. In the same manner, the ‘quirk’ factor is amped up throughout and at times feels self-conscious.

Because it’s a joy, it’s funny and has a strong independent spirit, I reckon it will be the first local film to be embraced by young NZers. Just having a film like Eagle Vs Shark made – that is, a NZ film that’s very much a product of this generation – is very exciting. Perhaps more exciting though, is to see what Waititi does next.

Reviewed by Paul Scantlebury.

Dominion Post [Graeme Tuckett]

press

Sweet-natured, modest in its intentions, and almost defiantly whimsical...

The Christchurch Press [Margaret Agnew]

press

1/2 It's a gem of geek love in Aotearoa with some virtuoso performances of awkwardness from its two leads, Loren Horsley and Jemaine Clement. This could well be New Zealand's first arthouse rom-com...

The Hollywood Reporter

press

Presumably, these characters are meant to be appealing in their ordinariness, but just seem inane. The Farrelly Brothers can get away with it because their writing is smart, even if their characters aren't. For Waititi, who developed the screenplay at the Sundance Lab, wisdom consists of lines like, "life is full of hard bits but in between there are lovely bits"...

The Lumi?re Reader, Wellington [Kate Blackhurst]

press

It’s just not that funny... If watching adults behaving like stunted emotional fcukwits, while spotting bits of Wellington, for an hour and a half is your idea of fun, you should go...

The Lumi?re Reader, Wellington [Tim Wong]

press

Although the film is undermined far more as a Michel Gondry cribbage than a Napolean Dynamite proxy, it at once underlines itself culturally with a soft-spoken modesty, and belies its own shyness as a confident, assured piece of moviemaking... anyone seeking an antidote to the buffoonery (and indeed, Auckland-ness) of Sione’s Wedding, its appeal will be immense...

TV3 [Kate Rodger]

press

1/2 Eagle versus Shark will either hit the bulls eye for some, or miss the dartboard completely for others...

Variety [USA]

press

Some light laughs ensue and loner protagonists possess an offbeat appeal, but the 30ish characters, Kiwi accents and profoundly twee nature place a large question mark over its commercial prospects with the “Napoleon” demographic...

Nothing to do with geeks or NZ

I found this to be a deeply depressing movie. Jermaine Clement's character was not a geek but suffered from Asbergers Syndrome. (Check it online - he has every symptom - monotonous delivery; expressionless face; completely egocentric; unable to read others body language; socially awkward; obsessive; habitually talks "at" rather than "to" people). These are unhappy morose people who are generally unpleasant to be around. To call this movie a comedy is incomprehensible to me. (Maybe I'm too mature?)

Unexpected and NZ Proud

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Unexpected and NZ Proud

Speaking as person who lives in NZ, has never been interested in watching FotConchords and had never even heard of this movies release before it was given to me as a birthday present i have to say i am proud to be a New Zealander after viewing. Yes - its similarities to Napolean Dynamite can be frustrating at times but with such great acting Clement and Horsley present on screen should it matter? I thoroughly enjoyed everything from the obvious New Zealand beauty landscape to the fresh, relaxing tunes of The Phoenix Foundation. Definitely a Taika Waititi fan now - Thanks :)

Not the Best, but definitely Worthwhile seeing

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Not the Best, but definitely Worthwhile seeing

It's high time that a 'contemporary' comedy film come from NZ. We've been so behind the times with comedy that E v S is a first in decades. And yes, it's no different from many other quirky films, but Napoleon Dynamite is not the first either, as there are plenty of quirky comedy Indie films that came before. The fact of the matter is that this is a first for US in NZ - finally we're catching up with the times. Whether we like the humour or not, the director still took risks and pushed the boundaries of dorkism and geekism - and that's a good thing because us kiwis play it too safe and too bland.

You also have to remember, it's a Maori dealing with comedy and humour for once instead of depicting wailing funeral scenes - and that's got to be a good thing to show the versitilty and other aspects of being Maori. I was really glad not to see a tangi or anyone getting bashed - instead it's a good old laugh and a total piss take, it's supposed to be over the top and silly.

Although I prefer my movies with heavier substance, there is always a place for these kinds of movies too.

By the way Anonymous, that's terrible about your dad, why don't you get in touch with the makers? Ring the NZFC to get a hold of them.

what a joke

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what a joke

ok this simple movie typically nz was made in my dads backyard at 38 owhiti st, titahi bay porirua. they did not even give my dad anything to use the property cheap wanks. and i watched them make it and i just thought if this is what it takes to make a film then i could win a bloody oscar for my making a film.

the power of love

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the power of love

an engaging movie occupationally misplaced girl falls for immature geek and loves him enuf to let him grow up

Kat2

Kat

user


See this film if you want a very simple laugh (maybe a couple even)

I have revisited people's comments of this film with interest as I reviewed it early on (from its premiere night). It would seem that there are many of us with the same opinion regarding this film which has an inflated reputation due to way too much media hype.

I agree with reviewers Andy and Simon, especially Simons perceptive comment that we need to be more objective when reviewing a Nu Zilnd film than just loving it because we are being patriotic and supportive of home-made products. The reason I was most disappointed was because I really expected it to be funny and wanted it to be funny but it just didn't deliver. There was so much more that could have been done better.

With Flight of the Concords now gracing our screen on Prime I can see how Jemaine Clement didn't have to extend himself as an actor for EVS. The character he plays in the film seems an extension of his tv character, showing that he does droll very well. The FotConcords exudes much more potential that this feeble film. At the very least, FOTConcords has a vague storyline evident in the last 2 episodes even if somewhat akin to the Extras show plot.

And I know this even if I am somewhat immature for my age.

WOW i tell you WOW

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WOW i tell you WOW

EVS is so well executed! had the theatre buzzing, a beautiful lil' package of shits n giggles. i rate it over nappy D anyday.

admittedly i can see how ppl give this movie a low rating-but i also think those ppl are stupid. -they're the ones who don't understand why a movie isnt full of fast paced movie action/american comedy or scandal.

To Nik and Beccy...

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To Nik and Beccy...

Nik: Thank you for calling people like me 'stupid', but I can fully understand the merits of a slow-paced movie. Do you think that a movie is good purely based on its pace and style of comedy?

Beccy: Am I overly mature? Well I'd rather be that than someone who writes: 'freakn awsum movi!'

The only 'foolish foolish suckers' around here are you two. Eagle vs Shark was average, and if both of you saw more films then you would realise that.

Ye Gods...

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Ye Gods...

What happened here? A film that I expected to be really funny, stylish, and interesting, turned out to be dull and bland. It wasn't compelling at all, in fact it almost bored me to tears. A few mildly humours moments didn't make up for a directionless mess that was filled to the brim with pretention. This is short film material. Why was it stretched to a feature-length? It was pointless, stilted, and embarrassing.

good tyms

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good tyms

freakn awsum movi! in my opinion any1 who didnt like it is overly mature and needs ta lightn up!