I had an entirely different review in mind for Eddie the Eagle. I was waxing poetic about not aiming to prove others wrong, and being true to yourself...that was going to happen just before I just walked out of a screening of Deadpool.
I may, at some point, finish my original review. But viewing Deadpool made me think. Eddie the Eagle is a movie that is trying to slide in just as 2016s super powered beat down commences. With Deadpool, Batman vs Superman, and Captain America: Civil War (plus many more) to dominate cinema talk for multiple segments of the movie going audience, Eddie the Eagle has come at the absolute right time. Why? Because it hearkens back to a time where our heroes didn’t need to be brooding. They didn’t rely on having a “dark past.” They weren’t morally compromised. Does Eddie wield a gun in this movie? No. He barely wields booze, let alone a fire arm. He’s innocent, he’s driven, and most of all, he doesn’t want to be a hero. Eddie just wants to accomplish a personal goal.
This generation is sorely lacking the storytelling that comes from this era. During Eddie the Eagle, another famed 1988 group of Olympiads are mentioned. The Jamaican Bobsled team, reintroduced to my generation with the 1993 film, Cool Runnings. Both of these movies feature people determined to not go out for fortune or fame, not to become rich or acquire endorsement deals, they wanted to be a part of something bigger than themselves. They wanted their lives to have meaning. To inspire. While there were more than likely embellishments to further the story in both movie’s scripts, the stories never grow larger than what they actually are.
Before Deadpool appeared on our screen, we were presented with our regular movie experience. Previews. Eddie the Eagle was one of them and I have to say, 20th Century Fox, when making movies like these, please please PLEASE give the people that cut trailers like the latest Batman v Superman trailer the reigns to entice people to see this movie. Seriously, the preview for Eddie the Eagle had people in our audience either confused or talking about how they’re going to pass. This movie has so much heart and earnest in its storytelling that it deserves far more.
The acting was outstanding. I want to give kudos to Hugh Jackman who plays a former US Ski Jumper who now visits with the bottle more than he ingests actual food, Jo Hartly, who plays Eddie’s mother who is so genuine, kind, loving and resourceful, and Taron Egerton who..man… standing ovation for this guy. Watching him for the first time in Kingsman, I was impressed. But with his turn as Eddie, Taron’s facial ticks, his smile, and ultimately, his sense of wonder was infectious.
Let’s talk about that sense of wonder. With everything he does, Eddie is happy and aware of what is going on in his life. Everything is precious to him, including his setbacks. Every moment. From landing the bunny hop of the 15m jump, all the way to sipping a glass of milk for it’s calcium count. The understated glee of giving a double thumbs up when he’s ready to proceed. And ultimately each fall he experiences, this movie gives us something to actually aspire to. To do things with a 100% effort without looking for anything to gain in return. And Taron Egerton gives us his absolute best.
I want to also speak about the choice of score. The soundtrack was composed by Matthew Margeson. Margeson’s resume is quite impressive. He has credits under his belt in some of the biggest movies in recent years. But something that sticks out and I was having a hard time putting my finger on where I’ve heard his arrangements until I had a chance to check out IMDB. And there it was, Wreck it Ralph. While listening to the score throughout the movie, I was transported back to the 80s with all of it’s synth glory. Movies like this, recent ‘period’ pieces, go the route of finding all of the hits of the era and loading it full until it turns into a giant mixtape with a movie in the background. Thankfully, Eddie the Eagle did not go this route and we were the benefactors.
This movie was not only focusing on the 80s, but it was filmed and edited as if it were SHOT in the 80s, music included. All in all, it had heart. Lots and lots of heart. That’s what makes Eddie the Eagle so special. This movie had me on the verge of tears several times towards the end.
There is a moment where he completes a jump and to the world of Ski Jumping, it is completely unimpressive. But for Eddie, not only is it a personal best, it is a new record for Britain who had not competed in this sport since the 1920s. Eddie almost loses his mind and this is what turns the crowd. This is where the crowd sees what we, as an audience, have seen from the start. It's like everyone is finally in on the secret that we've known for the last hour. I couldn't have been prouder for a movie character than I was for him. He was not a spectacle, no matter how much the media wanted him to be. He’s doing something that we, in our wildest dreams, would love to do -- have, as Eddie puts it, his moment. We all want that moment. That moment where we matter. Not to anyone else, but to ourselves. That moment when we’ve accomplished what we set out to do. That moment where we realize that there is more that we want to accomplish. I can’t say it enough -- we needed this movie this year.
For all the adversity that he faces, and for all of his accomplishments, the ending has that final moment for every underdog out there. Full spoiler territory so be warned but, the moment when he arrives back home and walks through the gate to the awaiting crowd. Is it cool for him? Sure. But the moment he sees his father; his biggest doubter, his biggest naysayer, wearing the “I’m Eddie’s Dad” sweater. That is the moment that Eddie didn’t necessarily want but it’s the moment he needed. That sweater was greater than any medal or broken glasses that could fit in that tin his mother gave him all those years ago.
Eddie the Eagle reminded me what cinema used to be. It reminded me the heart that a movie can possess. And it reminded me that, while we may not all have Olympic aspirations, no matter what we’re facing, we need to gain speed, take the leap, lean into the fall, and if we focus properly we’ll stick the landing. Eddie the Eagle, thank you!