out of Five
Running time: 93
Enjoyable, frequently hilarious and oddly touching romcom which should appeal to fans of Napoleon Dynamite.
What's it all about?
Loren Horsley stars as Lily McKinnon, a nerdy fast food worker in New Zealand who has a crush on regular customer Jarrod (Jermaine Clement) because he has the same mole on his upper lip that she has. They eventually connect when she gatecrashes his come as your favourite animal-themed party (hence the title) and they bond over a mutual love of violent video games.
To the rest of the world, Jarrod is an obnoxious, sulky loser (think Napoleon Dynamite), but Lily sees something in him that no one else does. Soon she's accompanying him to his hometown in order to witness his long-planned revenge over his high school nemesis.
Surprisingly, Eagle vs Shark was developed at around the same time as Napoleon Dynamite but the films are so similar in terms of character and humour that it could easily be a sequel. In a good way.
Lily's philosophy is that life is hard, but in between the hard bits there are some lovely bits, and Eagle vs Shark is basically about finding the lovely bits. To that end there are several wonderful scenes and sight gags - the climactic revenge fight scene in particular is screamingly funny.
Horsley and Clement make terrific leads and their relationship is oddly touching, even if Jarrod doesn't quite realise how lucky he is. The script is extremely witty and the actors deliver their lines in an amusingly deadpan fashion throughout, with frequently hilarious results.
The supporting cast is equally good, with Jarrod's weird friends and relations each getting a chance to shine. In addition, writer-director Taika Waititi includes several stop-motion animation sequences, but while they add to the quirkiness of the film, they don't really do much else.
This is a sweet-natured, extremely funny romcom that marks Waititi out as a talent to watch. Highly recommended.