The geek factor is more hip than teen sex these days. It’s everywhere. On television, we have The Big Bang Theory, Ugly Betty, Chuck, and the continuing cult status of Freaks and Geeks. Wired Magazine,, Steve Jobs, Lord of the Rings, Bill Gates, Dwight on The Office, iEverything, the definitive edition of Blade Runner just being released. The entire genre of indie rock is, like it or not, nerd to the core. Just look at Sufjan Stevens. Kurt Vonnegut’s still popular, the Wii is selling better than Jesus and there are books based off the Halo series. Geek, geek, geek.

One movie which really embraced the geek of life was Napoleon Dynamite. If Seinfeld was the show about nothing, then Napoleon Dynamite was even less than that. It contained a few moments of good writing and sharp characters, but the lines were such that they too quickly lost their sparkle. “Your mom goes to college” could never compete with the longevity of something like “What? What ain’t no country I ever heard of! They speak English in What?” But the movie was a hit because it latched unto that idea that we’re all nerds, doing small pointless things in our little separated lives. The moments we can snatch a connection with someone else should be treasured and everything else is joke fodder. Maybe it wasn’t that existential, but it was at least a gentle existentialism.

Napoleon Dynamite has a proud follower, and one well worth that title. It is none other than Eagle vs. Shark, the hilarious movie out of New Zealand.

Eagle vs. Shark is now available on DVD from The New Zealand Film Commission and Miramax. Pick it up today.

Directed by Taika Waititi, Eagle vs. Shark is a hilarious Sundance nominated look at love and how it has to be blind. Loren Horsley and Jemaine Clement star as Lily and Jarrod. Lily works at Meaty Boy, a burger joint in the mall and pines after Jarrod, who works at the video game store a few stores down. They hook up at a party after she lets him win a video game tournament and she ends up going to visit his family with him. That’s when it gets really funny. He doesn’t get along with his sister and her husband – the two of them are hilariously comparable to a less-than-suave Milo Minderbinder. His dad sits in a wheelchair and mourns his dead son all day. Jarrod is planning revenge on his high school nemesis. It can’t get much funnier than all that.

The special features on this disc include deleted scenes with optional commentary, outtakes, a full-length commentary for the movie with director Taika Waititi and some guests, and the music video of “Going Fishing” by The Phoenix Foundation. It’s the thought that counts, right?

I was surprised. It was well documented that this movie used Napoleon Dynamite as inspiration and I expected this to be a third-class rip-off of that film. Although there certainly are parts and characters which were spawned from Dynamite, the film stands on its own. Jarrod’s sister and brother-in-law are textbook examples of understated humor, the scene of the showdown between Jarrod and his nemesis are sublime, and the heart-wrenching emotional growth we see in the father and the rest of the family is perhaps the most surprising part of the whole film. Not to mention, Jarrod is played by Jemaine Clement, half of Flight of the Conchords. This is the funniest movie to come out of New Zealand since Black Sheep.

Although we’re only one month into the new year, Eagle vs. Shark is easily the funniest independent film I’ve seen this year. It’s well worth the purchase price to see something the clever, off-beat, and completely hilarious.

This DVD is available at

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