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Laramie Movie Scope:
Eagle Vs. Shark

Quirky characters in a geeky romance

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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January 15, 2008 -- This romantic comedy about two lonely people who find each other while orbiting on the outer fringes of society reminded me a lot of a similar comic movie from a few years back, “Napoleon Dynamite.” Like that film, “Eagle Vs. Shark” is about societal misfits who find some strength by banding together. It is also about family, and unconditional love. This is the kind of story that could only have been told by an outsider, and writer-director Taika Cohen (AKA Taika Waititi) probably knows what it is like to be an outsider, being of native Te-Whanau-a-Apanui descent. This film is set in New Zealand, but its themes are universal.

Lily McKinnon (played brilliantly by Loren Horsley), an awkward young woman, has a secret crush on Jarrod Lough (played by Jemaine Clement), a nerdy young man. She finally gets a chance to meet him at a party he throws for his friends. She dresses as a shark, he dresses as an eagle, their favorite animals. They hit it off when it turns out she is very skilled at playing video games. She lets Jarrod win in order to get on his good side. The tactic works and the two seem to hit it off. Their relationship is awkward, and is strained almost to the breaking point by Jarrod's mad quest to get vengeance on a high school bully. Although Jarrod becomes more distant as the date of the fight approaches in his home town, Lily becomes friends with Jarrod's equally strange family. In the end, Jarrod finally comes to understand that Lily likes him, that she is a gem, and that if he doesn't grow up and earn her love that he is throwing away the opportunity of a lifetime.

Loren Horsley has the most wonderfully expressive, elastic face, which seems to reflect everything going on inside her head. Her performance is the glue that holds this wacky film together. Jemaine Clement is also good as the embarrasingly clueless and socially awkward Jarrod. This is a character with a lot of humanity, but very few admirable qualities. It is difficult to see what Lily sees in him. The film also uses some unusual visual stunts. Stop-motion photography is used to make it appear as if two people in sleeping bags are zipping across the landscape, chasing each other. The same technique is used to show an unlikely romance between an apple core and a rotten apple, following an attack by ants and an ocean voyage on a flip-flop. The director of photography in the film is Adam Clark. This is a very whimsical and entertaining film. It rates a B.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in video and/or DVD format, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2008 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)