Eagle vs Shark spends its first hour making fun of its two main characters—Lily (Loren Horsley) and Jarrod (Jemaine Clement), nerds who enter into a quirky romance of sorts. Each cultivates a strikingly odd look and image. The mulleted Jarrod has a lackluster party where the guests are expected to dress as favorite animals. The ever-smirking Lily impresses him at the party with her skills at a video combat game, which she lets him win. Pretty soon, Jarrod is showing her his collection of handmade candles. Oh, my.
Actually, what I’ve said so far minimizes the characters’ quirkiness. Still, you’ll likely be surprised by the pathetic and preposterous mission that Jarrod embarks on. Apparently not realizing that there’s only so much moviegoing pleasure to be had in feeling superior to the characters, New Zealand director Taika Cohen uses Jarrod’s mission as an opportunity to make fun of even more characters, mostly Jarrod’s family.
Then, the last third of the film takes a turn. One of the main characters becomes an object of our pity, while the other becomes an object more of outright derision. I just wanted Lily and Jarrod to just get away from each other—but, of course, there’s a Movie Ending™ to be had. You won’t be surprised by it, and you might even be a bit satisfied by it. You won’t want to spend much time thinking about it all, though.
All that said, I didn’t hate the film. Horsley and Clement are watchable and really commit to their roles. The problems lie in Cohen’s script and direction, which make Lily and Jarrod into objects of viewing rather than characters to follow.
On a four-star scale, I’d give Eagle vs Shark two or two-and-a-half stars.