An Indie comedy from New Zealand that reeks of the Sundance workshop where it was conceived by writer/director Taika Cohen — which is to say it features a road trip, a quirky dysfunctional family, and a couple of awkward lovers who dress up in silly costumes. Eagle vs. Shark tastes an awful lot like Napoleon Dynamite meets Little Miss Sunshinewith Kiwis!

Lily (Loren Horsley) is a gangly young woman who lives with her brother and has an inexplicable crush on Jarrod (Jemaine Clement), a nerdy loser who makes his own candles. They’re both awkward, they both work at the mall, they have the same upper-lip mole, and they both say “cool” a lot. Their favorite animals, respectively, provide the film’s title.

After Lily and Jarrod agree to have cool sex, the action shifts to Jarrod’s home town, where he plans to take revenge on a former high school bully–by challenging him to a fight. While Jarrod trains with cool nunchaks, Lily meets his family, among them an uncle and aunt who sell training suits out of Jerrod’s old room, which is why our lovers have to pitch a tent in the garden.

And so forth. Eagle vs. Shark may sound entirely predictable, and it’s true that it doesn’t add much to the quirky romance sub-genre, but the film does have one major asset: Loren Horsley. The face of Lily, with its big moist eyes and lopsided smile, is winning enough to make the derivative details surrounding her come alive. Opens June 22.

Eagle vs Shark. Taika Cohen, 2007. **

  • The trailer: