By: Katy Kleinginna (Two Beers) –
Indie darling Jemaine Clement (Flight of the Concords) and mousey wallflower Loren Horsley star in the 2007 romcom-dramedy Eagle vs Shark.
The film paints the picture of a shy cashier and a loner gamer’s romance as they relish in each other’s awkward, lengthy gazes. Jarrod (Clement) has moved away from his family’s home in hopes of escaping his tormented childhood memories. Lily (Horsley) spends her time slaving away at a greasy spoon that Jarrod visits frequently. Lily develops a sweet crush, but finds it hard to speak with Jarrod due to her crippling social awkwardness. Jarrod invites Lily’s coworker to an “animal” party (folks dress as their favorite animal and battle it out video game style.) When Jarrod’s invitation is brutally rebuked by Lily’s coworker, Lily and her (equally) awkward brother step in to join the festivities. Lessons of life, love and ass-kicking are spread throughout the film.
Jemaine Clement is a genius in his own right. Flight of the Concords features awkward jokes, silly songs and awkward stares, but the formula works. The success of the format spills over into Eagle Vs. Shark, giving viewers a peek into the mind of Clement and friends. Eagle is essentially New Zealand’s response to Napoleon Dynamite, with a little more sexuality and nerd violence.
Jarrod spends his time as a cashier in a video game store, as he gives advice and finds games tailored to every gamer. Though Jarrod’s character is often straight-forward and borderline rude, Lily’s character seems to bring the best out of him with her goofy charm and video game abilities. Girl gamers are often portrayed as crass or anti-social, but Lily maintains her girlish charm while managing to beat everyone at the party in their version of Mortal Kombat.
Romantic symbolism finds its way into the film as represented by an apple core. En route to Jarrod’s hometown, Lily’s brother provides the couple with apples. Jarrod is disgusted to find his apple is rotten and throws the fruit from the car. As the apple lands in a nearby river, the scene switches to clay-mation and is referenced when the couple’s relationship progresses. The relationship is tumultuous and odd from the beginning, but has some touching and sweet moments.
The film’s lessons want to sit deeper with the audience than they actually do. It’s nice when a movie can strike a personal cord in viewer’s hearts, but when a lesson of “love thy family” plays out in nearly every indie movie, the idea needs to have a fresh take, or the ideals can seem trite. The film itself is never boring, but the lessons are not as deep as they hoped to be.
Eagle vs Shark is adorable! Indie movies are not everyone’s forte, but this film has something for every viewer. If you’re looking for romance, gamer talk, family values, and a fresh take on awkward 20-somethings, give Eagle vs Shark your full attention.
Take a Drink: whenever you grimace at Lily’s awkward stances
Take a Drink: when Jarrod is crude, but you still manage to love him
Take a Drink: when Jarrod’s family references one of their own brands
Do a Shot: at each clay-mation apple scene