Most inspirational sports films usually have a tangible bad guy that our hero or heroes have to beat in the last act of the film to prove themselves. Films such as Rocky (1976), The Karate Kid (1984) and Warrior (2011) have that same common blood line.
But in Eddie The Eagle (2016) we see an ancestry common to films such as Rudy (1993), 42 (2013) and Remember The Titans (2000). These movies are definitely in the sports film genre, but also we see that the hero competes against the system and society as much as with himself or a tangible opponent.
42 was the biopic of Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Boseman), an African-American baseball player who, through perseverance and character, stood up against the racism and hatred of his time to become a champion baseball player. This film shows the segregated baseball system in place at this time in American history and the respect won by Robinson.
Rudy is the story of Daniel "Rudy" Ruettiger (Sean Astin), who dreams of playing football at the University Of Notre Dame. Despite the obstacles set up by the school, his family and the coaches, determination, character and heart give him the drive to inspire his teammates and earn a spot on the Notre Dame football team.
In Remember The Titans we see a system built not only on the back of the high school sports establishment of the early 1970s, but also on racism and the suspicions and fear that can be handed down from parent to child. This film tells the story of African-American coach Herman Boone (Denzel Washington) and his attempt to assemble a racially diverse football team. Through competition, drive and the brotherhood of teamwork, soon the racial and cultural divide between the players is mended.
And this brings us back to the DNA descendant of these films, Eddie The Eagle. Our hero, Michael "Eddie The Eagle" Edwards (Taron Egerton), is shown as a child with bad knees and poor coordination, but with plenty of drive. His dream is to be an Olympian in any sport. His mother is his biggest fan, while his father is very much part of the typical British working-class mindset, whose creed seems to be: "Don't look up from the grindstone, you'll never be great, if work is good enough for the dad, it's good enough for the son, chasing dreams is stupid." As we see Eddie grow older, he tries different types of Olympic events, but does not show any athletic promise. He discovers downhill skiing, and after achieving a modicum of success when trying out for the 1988 Winter Olympics team, a slight embarrassment leads to him being dismissed from tryouts. After almost giving up, he discovers ski jumping and pursues the sport despite the objections, obstacles and the British "know-your-place" establishment.
In Eddie The Eagle, we see the DNA of the aforementioned films quite clearly: the strong-willed protagonist striving toward a goal, butting heads against the walls of society or an overreaching ideal; finding family not just at home but where it embraces you; and desire for something better.
Also, the main characters in these films are quite often shown in some way to be an average Joe trying to be themselves while rising above their circumstances.
Another connection Eddie has to those aforementioned films is that its great entertainment for the 12-and-older demographic. With portrayals of both the flaws and strengths of these characters and those around them, these films are something to be shared with the young athlete or scholar who needs to be inspired.
Eddie The Eagle flies high not only on its own strengths, but by the blood pumping through its warm, strong heart from the movies that came before it. Be sure to check out Eddie The Eagle, in theaters February 26!