Picture this: You're at a party with some friends. Someone starts to tell a story about the ups and downs of raising kids. It's a decent story even though it's probably been told a bunch of times, and the punch line is pretty good even if it's a tad precious — something like, "And that's why Chihuahuas and 2-year-olds have separate bowls to eat from." There's a brief pause, and then someone comes up with a slightly rude, off-the-cuff topper ("Good thing the kid wasn't wearing applesauce-flavored diapers") that refreshes the story, getting a bigger, more surprising laugh. Amidst the laughter, maybe one other person tosses out something even more risqué ("Sounds like your family needs another shock collar! I mean, besides the one you have in the bedroom. Oh, come on, I'm kidding! Kidding!"). Then the person who didn't bring a date and hasn't said much all night says something so strange and wrong that it silences the room — something like, "On YouTube last night, I watched a clip of a child drowning a puppy in one of those kiddie pools. The clip really didn't last that long. It was a small puppy, kind of like the one you were talking about."
Take that awkward silence, make it last for 87 minutes, and throw in an animated courtship between two discarded apples, and you have Eagle vs. Shark, the worst romantic comedy since License To Wed, which I know only opened last week, but sometimes watching movies isn't fun.
Loren Horsely plays Lily, a sweet-tempered stick figurine who works at a burger joint. She is infatuated with Jarrod (Jemaine Clement), a repugnant, mulleted, tinted-lens-wearing oaf who works in a video-game store. They meet when Lily crashes Jarrod's "animal party," where she discovers a latent talent for video games but lets him win in the final round. Jarrod invites Lily to spend the evening. He shows her his homemade candles — candles that look like flames ("conceptual") or Middle Eastern people ("the Yanks will love it"). Jarrod and Lily sleep together. A black velvet painting of a tiger hangs on Jarrod's bedroom wall.
Soon Lily is roped into taking Jarrod back to his hometown, where Jarrod tries to fulfill a revenge fantasy involving a high school bully who doesn't remember him. Jarrod's family is a gang of disconnected misfits. (One set of in-laws designed their own line of tracksuits.) There is a breakup and then a makeup. The revenge fantasy does not go as planned. The family heals somewhat. But there's neither comedy nor romance here, and I looked everywhere. Even the New Zealand accents, where every "oo" sound is an "ee" and every "oh" sound is an "ay" ("Hellay, I find ye very ceete"), can't salvage this wreck.
This doesn't sound like much of a review, probably because Eagle vs. Shark isn't much of a movie. If this does sounds appealing, perhaps you should wear a "VOTE FOR PEDRO" shirt to the show; it will be that kind of crowd. Everyone else should stay home.
Eagle vs. Shark
Opens Friday, July 20th
Studio on the Square