For those of you who missed the very delightful “Samoan Wedding,” here’s an opportunity to see the equally delightful Eagle vs Shark, an offbeat love story between two misfits. This charming, almost innocent film from New Zealand, captures the lives of two very ordinary, unattractive people – Lily (Loren Horsley) a less than competent employee of Meaty Boy, a McDonald’s type fast-food take-out, and Jarrod (Jemaine Clement,) a rather blunt, boorish young man who works in a video game store. Lily has a major crush on Jarrod whom she considers the man of her dreams. She is bored to tears with her work and the only ray of sunshine in her most drab life is his daily appearance to buy lunch. The matching molds over their lips adds yet another comic touch to their “unattractiveness.”
The relationship begins to cook when Jerrod gives Lily an invitation to a “come as your favorite animal party” which she is supposed to hand over to the sexy blond who also works at Meaty Boy. Her friend declines the invitation but Lily decides to go costumed as a shark. She begins to win Jarrod’s attention by showing excellent skill at a computer game and thus begins their rocky courtship beginning with a kiss and “would you like to have sex?” At her positive response, Jerrod, dressed as an eagle, removes his beak but she stays pretty much clothed in her shark costume. She is already madly in love with him while he shows mostly indifference, making a phone call as soon as they finish having sex.
Written and directed by Taika Waititi, what makes this film, so charming is the pathos of these two outcasts. With all his bravado, Jerrod is pathetic in that he has been preparing for a revenge fight for years against a high school bully whom he feels ruined his life and the actual confrontation with his “enemy” is full of surprises and is quite hilarious. Clement’s wonderful characterization lets us know that deep down Jarrod is a victim of his own insecurities and limited intelligence.
Although you might cringe at Lily’s unconditional acceptance of Jerrod’s abrasive, sometimes abusive behavior, seemingly weak, desperate Lily, reveals a hidden strength and determination that is delicious to watch.
Director Waititi has assembled a wonderfully whacky ensemble cast including Craig Hall, Rachel House, Brian Sergent and Joel Tobeck all of whom add to the visual comedy without becoming comic book characters. A sweet musical score by The Phoenix Foundation adds a lively touch to the action as does the occasional creative use of symbolic animation which fast forwards the love story – a love story that reinforces that old saw, “There is a lid for every pot.”
Rated R Opens June 15 at Landmark Westside Pavillion Theatres