Eagle vs Shark

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Eagle vs Shark
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Taika Waititi
Produced by Cliff Curtis
Ainsley Gardiner
Written by Taika Waititi
Starring Jemaine Clement
Loren Horsley
Craig Hall
Joel Tobeck
Music by The Phoenix Foundation
Cinematography Adam Clark
Edited by Jonathan Woodford-Robinson
Distributed by Miramax Films
Release date
15 June 2007 (2007-06-15)
Running time
88 minutes
Country New Zealand
Language English
Box office US$1,298,037 (worldwide)

Eagle vs Shark is a 2007 New Zealand romantic comedy film directed by Taika Waititi and financed by the New Zealand Film Commission. Waititi wrote the screenplay based on the character of Lily developed by Loren Horsley.[1]

The film had its world premiere at Sundance in the World Cinema Dramatic section of the festival.


Lily (Loren Horsley), a shy, wistful girl, is a songwriter when no one is listening. She works at a fast food restaurant and has a crush on Jarrod (Jemaine Clement), a geek who works in a video game store. One day, Jarrod gives Lily an invitation to his "dress as your favourite animal" party to pass along to her workmate Jenny, who throws it away; Lily retrieves it and shows up at the party with her caring and supportive brother Damon.

The party is sparsely attended with what are apparently teenage and adult customers of Jarrod's store, all dressed extravagantly in animal costumes. Jarrod is impressed with Lily's shark costume as well as her savant-like video game skills. They go to Jarrod's room and he learns Lily's parents both died of heart attacks. He says his brother and mother are dead, too. They kiss and have brief sex.

The following day, Jarrod invites Lily on a date but fails to turn up. He later comes by Lily's house to apologize, saying he was depressed and needed to be alone. He confides that he plans to confront his high-school bully Eric, but has no car to get to his hometown. Damon agrees to drive Jarrod and Lily there. Along the way, Damon offers them apples, which will become the representation of Jarrod and Lily in several claymation scenes throughout the film.

Upon arriving, Lily discovers that Jarrod's family is just as bizarre as Jarrod himself. His sister and brother-in-law sell all kinds of questionable products, like make-up kits and jumpsuits. Jarrod's father is a withdrawn, wheelchair-bound man. Jarrod's 9-year-old daughter Vinny, the fruit of a random sexual encounter who Jarrod sees only occasionally, also lives with Jarrod's family. They don't have room in the house, so Jarrod and Lily have to sleep in a tent in the yard.

It becomes clear his father's favorite son was Jarrod's brother Gordon, an accomplished athlete. Jarrod spends his time trying to win his dad's affection and training for his impending fight with Eric. Jarrod learns from his friend, computer geek Mason, that Eric will be in town the next day.

Gordon's equally successful fiancee Tracy comes over, and it seems Jarrod's father also loves her more than Jarrod. Jarrod breaks up with Lily, saying he's too busy with his revenge mission and "too complex" for a relationship. Lily is visibly upset but tries to hide it. Jarrod takes flowers over to Tracy's house and spends the day with her on the beach.

Lily and Vinny push Jarrod's father around town, coming to a hill. He refuses to go any farther and gets up to walk home, exposing that he doesn't actually need the wheelchair. Lily and Vinny continue up the hill where the little girl reveals that Gordon did not die saving a child from a fire as Jarrod had said, but by committing suicide throwing himself off the cliff at the top. Later, Lily learns Jarrod lied about his mother's death, too.

At a family dinner, Lily tells a silly joke, making everybody laugh. Jarrod appears jealous. Later, Jarrod's father watches an old tape where Gordon wins a race. Feeling even more alienated, Jarrod falsely announces that he is dating Tracy. Annoyed by Jarrod's behavior, Lily decides to attend a local party, where she gets drunk and dances with a lot of boys, while Jarrod jealously looks on. She spends the night in the bushes, and in the morning Jarrod berates her for making him worry.

That afternoon, Jarrod, with his family and friends watching, confronts Eric and finds out that Eric has lost the use of his legs. Eric apologizes for having been a bully, but Jarrod attacks him anyway. Despite his condition, though, Eric is able to overpower Jarrod, and only relents when Jarrod's father intervenes. Depressed, Jarrod runs off and retreats into himself. Lily follows him and attempts to cheer him up. Then she tells him she is going home the following day, but that it could change. At the bus stop, Jarrod is waiting for her with a bouquet of lilies. They reconcile and journey back on the bus together.



The film's script was workshopped at the Sundance Film Festival Director's and Screenwriter's Labs in June 2005.[2] The script was sold in August and given a budget of NZ$1.8 million (US$1.35 million). It was shot entirely in New Zealand, in and around Wellington and Porirua, during 25 days in October and November 2005 with a crew of 35 workers.[1][3]

The film is composed mostly of live action, but segments within the film are done in stop motion by Another Planet Ltd., utilizing both props and actors.[1]


The soundtrack to Eagle vs Shark features New Zealand artists The Phoenix Foundation, Age Pryor, The Reduction Agents, and Tessa Rain, along with M. Ward, Devendra Banhart and British group The Stone Roses. Along with a number of songs The Phoenix Foundation wrote the original score for the film. The soundtrack is available through Hollywood Records and Apple's iTunes.


At Cannes 2006 it was announced that Miramax Films had purchased the North American theatrical rights after watching a five-minute trailer.[4]

The creators of the film asked art website DeviantArt to hold a competition to come up with a poster for the film.[5] The winning poster, by DeviantArt user 'puggdogg', was printed in The Onion newspaper.[6]

Critical reception[edit]

The film received mixed reviews, receiving a rating of 55/100 on Metacritic[7] and a 53% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.[8] The critical consensus on Rotten Tomatoes was that while there were "frequent moments of wit and mordant humor, Eagle vs Shark needs more to distinguish itself from other precious, Napoleon Dynamite-ish comedies' moments."[8] Joe Morgenstern of The Wall Street Journal commented that "...'Eagle vs Shark' has its own distinctive style, partly thanks to whimsical little interludes of animation, but mainly because it ties blithe absurdity to a rock bed of emotional truth."[9] Jim Ridley of The Village Voice noted the dissimilarity to Napoleon Dynamite saying "Napoleon Dynamite looks like Cary Grant next to the hero of this Kiwi quirk-a-thon: a hulking, sullen creep named Jarrod whose goony sulking, petulant selfishness and dweeby videogame obsession somehow work like Spanish fly on mousy burger-flipper Lily."[10]

Box office[edit]

Eagle vs Shark's worldwide gross is $US1,298,037.[11] In the US it opened on 15 June 2007 on three screens (one in New York City, two in Los Angeles) grossing $US20,361 in its opening weekend.[11] This was preceded by a series of free screenings, some with a Q&A with Taika Waititi and Loren Horsley, in certain cities to gain a word of mouth buzz.[3]

Home media[edit]

Eagle vs Shark was released 8 January 2008 on DVD. Bonus features include a commentary by director Taika Waititi, outtakes, deleted scenes with optional commentary, and The Phoenix Foundation music video "Going Fishing".


  1. ^ a b c "Eagle vs Shark Production Notes" (Press release). New Zealand Film Commission. Archived from the original on 1 July 2010. Retrieved 1 July 2010. EAGLE vs SHARK came into existence through Loren Horsley who had the character of Lily in her head. She tapped into her teenage years, the awkward, embarrassing moments and I thought wow, it would be really cool to make that young, gauche girl the central character of a story.
  2. ^ Roberts, Sheila (2007). "Eagle vs Shark Loren Horsley, Taika Waititi Interview". MoviesOnline. Archived from the original on 1 July 2010. Retrieved 1 July 2010.
  3. ^ a b Goldsmith, Jeff (16 June 2007). "Eagle vs Shark Q&A". Creative Screenwriting Magazine. Archived from the original on 1 July 2010. Retrieved 1 July 2010.
  4. ^ Ross, Matthew (17 January 2007). "Taika Waititi". Variety. Archived from the original on 1 July 2010. Retrieved 1 July 2010.
  5. ^ lolly (4 June 2007). "Eagle vs Shark Poster Contest". DeviantArt. Retrieved 1 July 2010.
  6. ^ lolly (30 June 2007). "Eagle Vs Shark Poster Contest Winners!". DeviantArt. Retrieved 1 July 2010.
  7. ^ "Eagle vs. Shark reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 1 July 2010.
  8. ^ a b "Eagle Vs. Shark (2007)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 11 December 2010.
  9. ^ Morgenstern, Joe (15 June 2007). "Kiwi Comedy 'Eagle vs Shark' Is Endearing, Odd". The Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on 1 July 2010. Retrieved 1 July 2010.
  10. ^ Ridley, Jim (5 June 2007). "Eagle vs. Shark". The Village Voice. Archived from the original on 1 July 2010. Retrieved 1 July 2010.
  11. ^ a b "Eagle Vs. Shark (2007)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 1 July 2010.

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