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Friday, 8 October 2010


It's nice to have my computer back, because now I can crack on with writing again (having not done any in about two weeks). Now, if only I could decide which story to focus on and finish, I might be on to something...

Recently watched EAGLE VS SHARK, a New Zealand film starring Jermaine Clement from Flight of the Conchords (who're brilliant). He plays Jarred, a full-on computer shop geek with bad hair who's the inexplicable source of infatuation for the main character, Lilly. Jarred is the sort of dweeb who's mercifully unaware of how naff he is, which is funny for us as an audience to watch, but makes him come across as a pitiful try-hard. However, this is all offset by a form of self-confidence that borders on arrogance, which turns him into a more fleshed-out individual and (whisper it) an interesting one. Why is he this way? The answer is both surprising and strangely poignant.

Lilly, on the other hand, is the very epitome of a Plain Jane. Dowdy clothes, dowdy hair, dowdy voice; walked all over by her employer and fellow employees, the only thing that appears to sustain her is an infallible sense of optimism. And the daydream that she and Jarred (who regularly visits the fast food restaurant she works in) will one day become a couple.

When she in effect crashes his birthday party wearing a shark costume (theme: dress as your favourite animal) and then promptly wows him with her prowess at a computer game, they end up bumping boots in one of cinema's least erotic trysts. Finally a couple, their relationship moves along at a wonky pace, exuding about as much romance as one of the Pope's farts, yet it still works. Just as we're wondering quite what else the film has in store for us, Jarred announces he's going home to beat up a former bully, so the action (such as it is) moves to Wellington, and the focus shifts slightly to encompass Jarred's dysfunctional family.

I was concerned that EAGLE VS SHARK would be a twee-fest, and at times it veers dangerously close to twee territory: Lilly's workplace, a cinema with a dinosaur head entrance, the contrived awkwardness of several scenes...but what saves it from actually being twee is, for the most part, the unaffected performances of many of the characters.

Jemaine plays Jarred with a remarkable lack of self-awareness...or so it appears. Loren Horsley plays Lilly pitch-perfect, which makes how later events conspire to crush her spirit all the more effective. There's even a stop-motion sub-plot/juxtaposition featuring apples that was unexpectedly sweet.

And that's what EAGLE VS SHARK is: sweet. And cute. And a romantic comedy! Oh no! Not quite the laugh riot the DVD blurbs would have you believe, it's still an amusing and interesting spin on the 'misfits fall in love' sub-genre. In truth, there are quite a few aspects that make this film worth watching (most of which are definitely worth discussing but constitute as spoilers, so I'm keeping schtum), from the unexpected sight gags (keep an eye out for a petrol pump) and Lilly's brilliant brother Damon (who can't do impressions to save his life, but no one acts like he's rubbish, making it funnier). And the score, by the Phoenix Foundation, is very very good indeed.

Would you look at that: I'm giving a romantic comedy a favourable review. Wonders never cease.

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