Eagle vs Shark

Director: Taika Waititi
(aka, Taika Cohen)

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

Eagle vs Shark Lily (Loren Horsley) works at Meaty Boy fast food joint, where life is hell, but funny. In Eagle vs. Shark (2007) she's got a crush on some dork who arrives at noon every day to order the same thing.

A dork should be glad that any girl could get a crush on him, & especially a cutie like Lily, but even dorks can have manly vanity & Jarrod (Jemaine Clement) is so self-absorbed he fails to notice a real opportunity while pursuing the improbable.

His predictable appearance makes her day worthwhile, but he never notices her attentiveness. When she's fired with a week's notice, that means she has only one more week to make her move, or give up her dream.

Jarrod is throwing a party & everyone's supposed to come dressed as their favorite animal. Lily manages to invite herself, & makes herself a shark suit. Jarrod is dressed as an eagle. All his friends all play video games & are nerds like him, except he's king of the nerds, which he mistakes as being el hombre importante.

These are the sorts of people folks tend to tell "Get a life!" But in their own homely way, they're the cutest batch of geeks imaginable, evidence that living in geekdom is a life. And what people outside geekdom often don't realize, it's pretty easy to get laid if you're a geek, as it's a genuine community of people who, more or less, actually do like each other.

Which is not to say there aren't a lot of other strange behaviors & emotional lumpiness among geekdom's citizenry. The love story that develops between Jarrod & Lily is truly ace, but it's not easy. And all the while on the soundtrack, some really swell choices of music keep bubbling to the surface.

Eagle vs SharkJarrod's from a nowhere-place of a home-town, which he hasn't visited in a few years. He's ready to return & face his nemesis.

Lily goes with him, & he's very soon proving himself a real asshole not at all grateful to have Lily. She's patient to the point of martyred saint, hoping he will mature if only a tiny bit.

And in the meantime, in this crappy rural burgh, they have some pretty comical adventures, together & apart. All the while Jarrod is "training" for his big rumble with Eric (David Fane), the Samoan dude who bullied him in highschool & made life hell.

So here he is a grown man still dwelling on childhood's difficulties, blaming one bully for all the angst & pain of his life. Isn't that the epitomizing definition of loser?

He's training himself in a moronic self-invented kung-fu style of fighting for the big match, about which Eric as yet knows nothing. But Jarrod keeps calling the man's house & harrassing his family members since he's never there.

Eventually he gets Eric to agree to meet him for the fight, though Eric doesn't even remember Jarrod. His old nemesis is completely eager to apologize for having been a bad-ass boy. But Jarrod won't listen to any of it; he just wants vengeance.

I will say the least I can about the encounter because it's got a few suprises imbedded in it. Enough to say Jarrod has a chance to come to terms with his own misery & learn to forgive & grow an ounce of decency. He's such a weak shit he fails even the simplest test of humanity, & his humililation will inevitably reach a point of enormity.

How he comes to recognize Lily as oddly wise & essential to his life becomes the heart of the film, with Lily's character always the dominant & most interesting even while Jarrod is the more antic & bizarre. Add some parenthetical interludes of whimsical stop motion animation, & you've got a wonderful film.

It has been compared time & again to Napoleon Dynamite (2004), but good as that film was, Eagle vs Shark is just so much better, grittier, & pathetical. It lends proof that we rarely grow wiser but only older, & that much of the sorry-ass misery in our lives is completely inside our heads with only tangential relationship to any cold cruel world we may convince ourselves is persecuting us & devouring our dreams.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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