“Eagle vs Shark,” the characteristic introduction by the New Zealand managing director Taika Waititi, is one of those pictures — “Napoleon Dynamite” is an conspicuous late forerunner — that invite you to express joy at its misfit personas and sympathize with them at the same time.
Jarrod (Jemaine Clement) and Lily (Loren Horsley), the mates whose passive-aggressive, off and on butterfly anchors the movie, are easy aims of parody. At the fast-food eating house where Lily acts, her workfellows express joy behind her back and sneer in her face. Just the categorical love of her evenly eccentric bro (Joel Tobeck) saves her from a full loss of self-esteem.
Jarrod, for his role, could be even more comfortable to laugh at as, such as Napoleon Dynamite, he is confident, against all attest, that he is a cool, complex warrior-stud. Lily, enamored with him from the beginning, is responsive to this approach. And once, afterwards, she sees through his poses, her tenderness is only compounded.
But I’m before the chronicle, which is a diminished, intermittently becharming, occasionally boring celebration of crotchet, accomplished with cute alive episodes featuring apples and ants. Lily, noticing that she and Jarrod have corresponding mols on their upper lips, becharms his eye at a party where he's dolled up as an eagle, she as a shark. She almost beats him at a computer game, he demonstrates her his accumulation of homemade wax lights, and they go to sleep.
Heretofore, so adorably quirky. Merely the quirk stakes are raised substantially while Jarrod declares that he must carry on a “mission” that takes him back to his natives, a seaboard enclave of oddity and thwarting. His expressed aim is to discover the bully who bedeviled him as a schoolboy and get in some vengeance.
Actually, although, he must face down the storage of his super-achieving dead bro, Gordon (acted in home television cuts back by Mr. Waititi), and their dad, whose favourite son was for certain not Jarrod.
This is some heavy excited luggage for such a tenuous movie to control, and “Eagle vs Shark” can't quite get off the twin traps of pressured whimsy and sticky drippiness. That it approximates is the consequence of Mr. Waititi’s dry, effective guidance and the idolatry of Mr. Clement and Ms. Horsley, who conceive perfectly in the wholeness of their characters long after everybody else, in the picture or watching it, has grown fed up with them