Eddie the Eagle
Film Review by Kam Williams
Against-the-Odds Saga Chronicles Exploits of Underdog Ski Jumper at the 1988 Winter Olympics
Growing up in Cheltenham, Michael Eddie Edwards (Taron Egerton) would tell anybody who would listen that he would be an Olympic athlete one day. Although mercilessly teased by playmates and barely tolerated by his skeptical father (Keith Allen), the boy seized on the unwavering encouragement of the very supportive mother (Jo Hartley) who would feed his seemingly-unreachable dream.
Despite being extremely farsighted, born with an underwhelming physique and betrayed by bad knees, Eddie pursued a variety of track-and-field events over the course of his formative years. But when none of those panned out, he eventually tried downhill skiing with hopes of representing England in the Winter Games.
However, after failing to achieve world-class status racing, he turned his attention to jumping where he would have absolutely no rivals, since his country hadn’t competed in that sport since the Twenties. So, he ventures to Germany, one of the handful of countries with the requisite training facilities.
There, Eddie begins his quest under the careful tutelage of Bronson Peary (Hugh Jackman), a disgraced American jumper in need of redemption. First, he must complete a couple of 60+ meter jumps to meet the Olympic’s minimum entry requirements.
Of course, that proves easier said than done, for it takes not only skill but a lot of courage to plunge headlong down a long ramp and launch yourself into thin air. Furthermore, the key to success includes mastering what Bronsan refers to as the “Jumper’s Paradox,” the counter-intuitive imperative to lean forward while in the air, which is just the opposite of the natural instinct to straighten up.
Directed by Dexter Fletcher (Wild Bill), Eddie the Eagle is a heartwarming, overcoming-the-odds adventure recounting the real-life exploits of a lovable underdog who became a crowd favorite during the ’88 Olympics staged in Calgary. Though initially content just to participate in the Games, Eddie becomes more ambitious the better he gets.
Ironically, the movie makes a passing reference to the Jamaican bobsled team, another long shot which developed a following in Calgary. Their exploits were recounted in Cool Runnings (1993), a picture very similar to this one in many respects.
A sentimental tearjerker which manages to make you weep, even though you see the manipulation coming a mile away.
Excellent (4 stars)
Rated PG-13 for smoking, partial nudity and suggestive material
In English, German and Norwegian with subtitles
Running time: 105 minutes
Distributor: 20th Century Fox