Eagle vs Shark Taika Cohen

Eagle vs Shark Taika Cohen
Napoleon Dynamite had a lot to answer for with its grindingly unfunny exercise in twee hyperrealism and high-school ranking of geeks. But it seems the model of restraint and compassion in the face of this recent New Zealand knockoff, which had me cringing at its ruthless humiliation of two hapless outsiders. Victim number one is Lily (Loren Horsley), a pallid nerd who can’t make friends and has just been let go from her job at a burger joint. But before she can turn in her polyester uniform, she meets victim number two, Jarrod (Flight of the Conchords’ Jemaine Clement), who invites her to a "dress as your favourite animal” party. He’s an eagle, she’s a shark and they fall in love only to follow his hostile dream of beating up his high-school bully (while dealing with his hair-raising family). The film is quite remorseless in its ritual humiliation of these two losers, picking up on the slightest mannerism to loudly ridicule only to turn around and "sympathise” with "aw, shucks” sentimentality. Though Jarrod ultimately turns out to be an amazingly unsympathetic character, it’s not his fault: he’s a straw man invented by geek-chic hipsters looking to scapegoat someone even weirder than themselves. The ’70s/’80s costumes and bric-a-brac are designed with lethal accuracy, but their aestheticising of these two people and their pain only intensifies the cruelty. This is just about as funny as being punched in the face, and maybe more painful. Extras begin with a commentary by director Taika Cohen (and phoned-in guests) that’s unctuous, smug and not terribly informative about artistic decisions beyond the noting of the retro fakery. A too serious music video for the Phoenix Foundation’s "Going Fishing,” deleted scenes and an outtakes reel round things out. (Alliance Atlantis)