The trailer for this film, made it look like New Zealand's version of Napoleon Dynamite. And there is uncertainly that element at work here; the unrealistically awkward, yet lovable characters, and the overdone thrift shop set design. But there's also a more realistic tinge at work. So while you're laughing at the embarrassing situations, you're also able to fall in love with the characters.
Lily works at a fast food joint, every day she anxiously awaits the moment when Jarrod comes in to get his lunch. He's oblivious to her affections, only has eyes for the cuter girl one register over. When he leaves the cute girl an invitation to an animal party, where everyone comes dressed as their favorite animal, Lily crashes the party. She gains his attentions by beating all challengers in a cheesy-fighting video game. When they meet in the finals, she's so enamored of him that she can't bother to look at the screen. They're soon falling into bed together and begin an extremely awkward relationship.
The movie never makes clear what Lily sees in Jarrod. He's a loser like her, only so full of himself that he's oblivious. And even though he treats her like dirt, she's happy to be at his side. That's my only real complaint about the film, that they don't try to explain Lily's point of view, she blindly follows Jarrod,immediately faithful, though he's offered her nothing of substance.
Though the film starts out a little dubious,when he takes Lily home with him so he can fight the guy who used to bully him in school, we begin to learn a lot more about why he is the way he is. The film has to have the goofy training sequence where Jarrod does ridiculous things, that no real person would ever think of doing, readying for his fight. They're staying with Jarrod's family, who are all as lovably goofy as he is, each with they're own quirks.
The film starts off a goofy character piece, and I bet that's what they sold the of the making of the film on, but as Eagle vs. Shark develops, each character begins to develop and are more realistic than on first glance. The mullet and the thick-framed glasses, initially make us laugh at Jarrod, but you begin to feel sorry for him as he realizes who he is. We begin to see who Lily really is, and learn along with her that she's a much tougher person than originally thought.
This is a film that not everyone will appreciate. I doesn't remain a shallow comedy in the Napoleon Dynamite vein, where you're simply supposed to laugh at their idiocy, you're invited into their world and begin to see them as real people. Both the leads are excellent, Jarrod is played with hilarious affect by Jemaine Clement, who's also in the extremely funny HBO series, Flight of the Conchords. Loren Horsley, a relative newcomer, is Lily, keeping a perpetual smirk on her face, she seems to live and breath this character. Written & Directed by Taika Cohen, who also directs episodes of Conchords, the film shows a definite flair of talent. If you enjoy your quirk with a little bit of meaning, you have to see this film.