Director: Taika Waititi
Writer: Taika Waititi
Starring: Jemaine Clement, Loren Horsley, Craig Hall, Joel Tobeck
Taika Waititi’s first feature length film, Eagle vs Shark, was released in 2007. It’s a romantic comedy/drama about Lily (Loren Horsley, who also co-wrote the story with Waititi), a shy fast-food worker who has a crush on one of the regulars, Jarrod (Jemaine Clement). At lunch time, shortly after Lily has found out that she’s being let go at the end of the week, Jarrod comes in to invite one of her co-workers to an animal costume party. Instead, Lily decides to go dressed as a shark and she starts daring Jarrod shortly afterwards.
Almost immediately it’s clear that Jarrod has some strange qualities. Without giving any reason, he pranks calls someone in front of Lily just after they’ve gotten together, not making any explanation for why he’s done it. He then invites her to see the new Wolverine film, and doesn’t show up, blaming it on his depression. He’s a very odd and quirky character, and you’re not always sure that he’s the right fit for Lily. He’s not sinister or creepy but is desperately seeking his father’s approval and lies at every opportunity to gain it.
The main plot of the film is about Jarrod taking Lily back to his home town, not so she can meet his family, but so he can challenge his high school bully to a fight and get revenge. He only really takes Lily as her brother drives him. In general Jarrod doesn’t treat Lily very well, lying about her accomplishments to show off. He’s flawed character and despite that you do feel sympathy towards him, which is due to how well he’s written. Lily also feels very authentic, as someone who’s optimistic and is a bit of an outcast of the world. She’s a relatable character and Loren Horsley gives a great performance.
Even though this is Waititi’s first film you can already feel his style shining through. There’s the mix of drama, comedy and quirkiness that define all of his films. The characters are all off-beat outcasts who don’t really fit in and there’s a quirky sense of humour that doesn’t always take centre stage but there’s enough funny jokes to balance with the drama of the relationship.
You can also feel Wes Anderson’s influence over Waititi in this film, as the characters feel like they would fit right into the world of Bottle Rocket or Rushmore. There’s also some really beautiful stop-motion animation that blends into the live-action at points, which adds to the fun and whimsical nature of the film.
Eagle vs Shark is a story about outcasts finding love. It’s quirky and filled with outcast characters and feels completely unique.
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It sounds like a cute romance film. Thanks for posting your review, Ashley!