2007
Rated: PG-13 for sexual content, adult language, and violence.
Genre: Comedy Drama Romance
Directed By: Taika Cohen
Running Time: 1:28
Review by: Felix Vasquez Jr.
Review Date: 12/25/07
Special Features:
 
EAGLE VS. SHARK

 

I’m not sure what I was expecting with “Eagle vs. Shark.” I mean many critics likened it to “Napoleon Dynamite,” and I was instantly horrified. I hate “Napoleon Dynamite,” and in some ways, yes, “Eagle vs. Shark” can resemble it, but hell, I liked this much better, even if my reaction to it was just mildly amused. “Eagle vs. Shark” is a cute and competent little coming of age story that takes place in New Zealand, and while I wasn’t blown away, Taika Cohen wins me over enough with unusual moments of romance, and sheer absurd one-liners that I was never bored. Upon asking for the girl love interest Jarrod originally wanted in his party, heroine Lily replies:  “She’s a lesbian… she went to a lesbian party.”

One of the bigger highlights of Cohen’s dramedy is the strong and funny performance by Loren Horsely who is sympathetic and absolutely charming as Lily, an awkward and submissive fast food worker who has just been given her walking papers at her job. But she’s intent on hooking the man of her dreams before she goes, and surely enough she succeeds. Jermaine Clement is the New Zealand equivalent of Napoleon Dynamite in a sense, and while he’s funny, he’s only instrumental to the awakening Lily experiences when she goes off on the road with him to help him fight an old high school bully.  

The journey of Lily from meek outsider to blunt realist is gradual and entertaining. She submits herself to Jarrod’s view of life and suddenly discovers that there’s something more, especially when his family takes a liking to him. Cohen’s film is an unusual and utterly embarrassing comedy that features some of the most awkward moments of comedy I’ve seen in a while. From Jarrod’s ultimate confrontation with his old enemy, right down to Lily’s emergence as a party girl, Cohen never lets us off the hook. But surely enough the character of Lily is fascinating enough to keep me wondering what’s in store for her next, and Cohen gives an entertaining coming of age tale.

Cohen seems to want to force quirkiness and idiosyncrasies on the audience, and often times simply fails. I was never under the impression that all of these characters were utter sideshow freaks who existed in their own world. Instead, they seemed like merely odd people who wouldn’t have that much of a time fitting in the real world. Cohen just doesn’t individualize his concept from other films of this ilk and I just felt manipulated into this mind set. As for the back stories, any attempts by Cohen at character emphases and hinted extrapolation are wholly under developed and bland to a fault. I never cared for any of the characters to a degree where I rooted for them or turned against them, it was all so middlesome.

Cohen's dramedy is a hit and miss little film with a forced sense of eccentricity that falls flat, but is otherwise saved by hilarious one-liners, an interesting story and a sympathetic female lead helped by a good performance from Loren Horsely.

 

 

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