Eddie the Eagle – Movie Review
Eddie the Eagle – Movie Review
Rating: B+ (Very Good)
Trailer/Thumbnail Courtesy 20th Century Fox
The inspirational sports film is a dime a dozen, so sometimes there needs to be an extra spark to make one of them appealing. This is especially true for ones “based on a true story” as it seems the same tropes re-appear over and over again. While Eddie the Eagle does use some of these clichés, it’s a film that has such an infectious and good-natured feeling towards its title character, it becomes easy to root for him. Director Dexter Fletcher clearly has a lot of admiration for Eddie Edwards and manages to make this film feel-good without soaking the audience in forced sentimentality.
It’s very easy to be impressed by Eddie’s passion for becoming an Olympian, even if his athletic abilities leave quite a bit to be desired. It’s that determination that drives a lot of the success of Eddie the Eagle. The script is funny and smart, aware of the ridiculousness of him getting in through a loophole and yet he never becomes the butt of the joke. When he falls over and crashes from ski jumping, there’s a genuine worry that he won’t qualify and reach the requirements. Eddie himself is self-aware about his abilities and primary goal, so he is never written as a character whose ignorant about the requirement and the dangers of the sport he’s participating in. Yet there’s a degree of optimism that makes Eddie the Eagle a film that can elicit smiles.
Fletcher appears to take a lot of inspiration from 1980s sports films, befitting the movie’s “period” setting. The soundtrack and the cinematography evoke that earlier decade and also gives a glimpse at how people became infamous without the aid of social media. The Olympic and ski-jumping scenes are well-directed, capturing both the thrill and fear of the event and constant media pressure. Some obviously computer-generated stunt work is a little jarring, but the impact is still existent. As is typical with the “based on a true story” label, some artistic license has obviously been applied. The only truly glaring fabrication is the head of the British Olympic Committee portrayed as somebody out to stop Eddie from qualifying at any cost. It’s a fairly one-dimensional character in a film that doesn’t need a traditional sneering villain.
Taron Egerton, who broke out last year with his winning turn in Kingsman: The Secret Service, continues to showcase his promise as Eddie. It’s a fairly physical role in the facial muscles and Egerton is able to not turn him into a caricature. While Hugh Jackman’s coach was created entirely for the film, there is still an honest chemistry between the two leads. While Bronson will obviously change his tune and become his reluctant coach, the transition is nonetheless gradual and his development is well written. Most of the humour comes from their interactions and the expected inspirational speeches are never corny.
Even with a lot of Eddie the Eagle clearly being fictionalized to create a more compelling story, there’s a charm and good nature that makes it easy to warm up to. It’s the underdog story with a large degree of optimism that is always welcome in this day and age. It works at being a crowd-pleaser without overdoing it and best of all, it respects its subject matter for having the chutzpah to jump into this dangerous sport with the proper passion and will. Just that he gets to participate is more important than winning and that’s a good message to have. The underdog sports film may be overdone at this point, but when a new attempt works this well, then they are always welcome.