Thirty years after Alvy Singer told Annie Hall their relationship had become a dead shark, the blueprint for romantic comedies — populated by wounded, self-aware lovers perfectly able to articulate their woes — hasn’t changed a lot. What makes Eagle vs Shark, the debut feature from New Zealand writer-director Taika Waititi (opening 6/15), a welcome addition to the genre is its cast of hesitant, fumbling protagonists — people just like the rest of us — who nonetheless find love, and find it totally baffling.
In an opening act that would mark the end of a traditional love story, a gawky fast-food server (Loren Horsley) and a gangly video-game salesman (Jemaine Clement, of HBO’s forthcoming Flight of the Conchords) hook up at a hopelessly dorky animal-costume party. From there, the laconic couple’s relationship becomes increasingly complicated as they quietly feud, inadvertently hurt each other’s feelings, and — yikes — meet each other’s even stranger families. Darkly funny and painfully honest, Eagle vs Shark says a great deal about couplehood without saying much at all.
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