Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Movie Log: Eagle Vs. Shark

Eagle Vs. Shark is the anti-Lord of the Rings. It's a small, low-budget movie set in the real world, made by entirely local New Zealand talent, and featuring characters who are not entirely unlike those who have seen Peter Jackson's movies several hundred times and dress themselves up as oliphaunt-riders on weekends.

(Though, as you can see, the two leads of the movie prefer to dress up as somewhat different creatures themselves.)

Actually, there's no obvious sign that Lily and Jarrod -- the leads of Eagle Vs. Shark -- are geeks. I'm just taking the fact that both of them are socially inept and making the all-too-common assumption. We meet Lily first, at work at a fast-food restaurant, and we instantly know that she has a crush on Jerrod...and that she's almost completely socially inept.

What we don't know, until after we get to know Jerrod better, is that he is even worse. By the time the movie's over, we'll have come to see Lily as the normal one.

So these two oddballs meet oddly, get together -- more or less -- and then go on a road trip to Jerrod's hometown. There, Jerrod intends to fight Eric Elisi ("the Samoan"), who tormented him all through high school.

Though Lily and Jerrod are clearly without the higher social graces, it's not as if their surrounding society is much better. Lily likes with her brother Damon, and shares many strange in-jokes with him -- but at least they're clearly a loving family. Jerrod's family, by contrast, is made up of many people, none of whom (except perhaps a grade-school girl) are what you would call functional members of society.

My wife and I kept remarking that, if someone had wanted to make a movie that portrayed all New Zealanders as bizarre and occasionally dim-witted weirdos, so as to keep the rest of the world far away, they couldn't have hoped to have done any better than Eagle Vs. Shark. You need to be able to enjoy the comedy of alienation to really appreciate this movie, but, if you do, you'll probably love it.

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