Eddie the Eagle is a quirky, inspirational, underdog story that is loosely based on the real life of Michael Eddie “the Eagle” Edwards, the British ski jumper who stole the hearts and minds of fans across the globe at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Alberta, in spite of finishing dead last in the only two events he competed in. The movie stars Taron Egerton as Edwards, the awkward acting and nerdy looking Brit, and co stars Hugh Jackman as Bronson Peary, the once-upon-a-time ski jumping hot shot, who turned to the bottle and has now resigned to a simple life, maintaining the ski jump slopes in Garmisch, Germany.
What works really well for this movie is that the main character of Eddie is so damn likeable. With his large, thick lensed glasses and innocently weird facial expressions, you can’t help but feel for the guy. From the opening frames of the movie, we see Eddie as a dorky little kid who has an unquenchable love for the Olympic games; so much so that he takes it upon himself to rig up events for him to compete in around the neighborhood. And it is obvious from these opening scenes that Eddie’s love and passion for the Olympic games is far superior than his athletic ability to actually play any of them. He really is not good at any of them. His own father even tells him he’s not very good, but that doesn’t deter him. In spite of the constant rejection and repetitious failure of pursuing this dream, Eddie is unflinching in his belief that he will indeed, one day, become an Olympic athlete. And it is his drive, his unfailing desire to become an Olympic athlete that is the engine and at the heart of this movie.
Taron Egerton does a really nice job in the titular role. He plays the character with an endearing quirkiness that seems to fit the real life Edward’s persona well, even if it is a bit broad, and it is really fun and entertaining to watch. Bronson Peary (Jackman) is the ski slope snow maintenance guy who eventually decides to become Edward’s unpaid personal coach, and as you might guess, a montage soon follows. Since Jackman’s character is completely fictionalized, I would have liked to see something more special happening between the two. Yet, it still works for what it was meant for, albeit, a bit dry and predictable. Jackman is just fine for the supporting character, although it is definitely not one of his more demanding roles. The only other characters that have any substance are Eddie’s parents played by Jo Hartley and Keith Allen, both of whom have good chemistry on screen and provide for some entertaining and memorable moments.
All in all, there is nothing ground breaking about this movie, as it doesn’t get much deeper than the classic formulaic tale of an unlikely underdog set out to accomplish something extraordinary, with nothing but enormous obstacles in his way. But it is the unbending spirit and determination of the main character to become an Olympian that makes Eddie the Eagle an engaging, fun and inspirational family movie. It is nothing more than that, and for some, that’s all the movie needs to be. The supporting characters and their relationships are for the most part very cliché, and we know where the story is headed. You shouldn’t expect much more than to go along for a predictably fun and enjoyable ride with some bumps and bruises along the way, and in the end, everybody is happy at. Visually, there is some effective use of extreme low and high angled shots that does a rather fine job of giving the audience a sense of just how incredibly high and dangerous Olympic ski jump ramps really are. These, along with a few (under used) POV shots nicely captured the ski jumping scenes which gives a taste of how harrowing a ski jump probably is. Although Eddie the Eagle will not be medaling in any categories at the Oscars this year, it’s a fun and engaging enough film, that is perfect for the kids and family. Not much more, not much less.