I had the privilege of being invited by Moviepilot to a press screening of the upcoming sports film Eddie the Eagle, based on the true story of Michael 'Eddie' Edwards, a British skier who, in the 1988 Winter Olympics, became the first ski jumping competitor to represent Great Britain. With Taron Egerton in the title role, and Hugh Jackman as his rough-going trainer, we're taken on a journey of inspiration, determination, and all of the bumps and bruises that come with achieving your dreams.
The film itself, I'll admit, I didn't know much about before my invitation. After doing plenty of research on Edwards' story, I felt ecstatic to see the finished product. I enjoyed it much more than I had expected when walking into the theater, because sports movies are really a make-or-break genre for me, in the sense that I'll either really take to them or they'll crash and burn. Here are the three things that made Eddie the Eagle a high-flying winner for me.
1. The Chemistry Between Egerton and Jackman
Egerton, a relative unknown except for those who have seen Kingsman: The Secret Service (and you definitely should if you haven't,) absolutely triumphed in the role of Eddie 'The Eagle' Edwards, but I don't think I would've enjoyed his performance half as much without one of my favorite actors standing at his side, Mr. Hugh Jackman.
Throughout the film, the two seemed to feed off each other in all of the comedic, dramatic, and downright true buddy moments that the screen had to offer. Egerton's determined, underdog personality clashed so hard with Jackman's ex-pro, alcoholic demeanor at first, only for them to end up complimenting one another by the end credits. They truly convinced me that they had known each other for a long time, and that they each had a profound love and respect for the other.
By the end of the film, the characters have each learned something about themselves as well as each other, and Egerton and Jackman convey that bond exquisitely together. Though Jackman's character was created solely for the film, as confirmed by Edwards, he made himself a necessity in the continuation of the plot.
2. The Inspirational Story of the Underdog
I'm a sucker for underdog movies, and that's probably why I can't stop watching sports films, even if I don't enjoy half of them. Edwards was nowhere near a champion, statistically speaking. He had to overcome personal struggles of impaired vision, a higher weight than other competitors, and financial restrictions to even make it to the Winter Olympics.
He couldn't maintain training for speed skiing, the original category he was hopeful for, because of the cost. He only switched to the ski jumping category after realizing that it was less expensive to train and easier to qualify for, as there were no other British ski jumpers.
Being completely self-funded, far-sighted, and a newcomer to an Olympic category that other competitors had trained years for, Edwards had so many obstacles to literally jump over, but he realized his dream. He wanted to go to the 1988 Winter Olympics, and he did so with pure determination.
3. There Wasn't Any Illusion of Grandeur
So many sports movies employ a feel-good rhythm early on to hook you on the plot, and then it never lets go. Eddie the Eagle certainly used the same tactics, drawing you in with your hero living in poverty and being told that he couldn't accomplish the goals that he had, and you find yourself rooting for him, against all odds.
This film certainly followed that same rhythm, but it set itself far apart from others in the genre by owning up to one thing: the title character was not the best, and you were never led to believe that he'd become the best. So many films such as this introduce you to an athlete or team that is discredited, disowned, and has nobody to believe in them, only to turn it around and win a gold medal, some championship game, or the heavyweight belt.
Eddie the Eagle did not follow this trope. I'm not saying that Edwards wasn't talented, when in fact he had talent to spare. What I'm saying is that you didn't believe that he could beat all the rest, but instead just wished for him to accomplish his dream of being an Olympic competitor, even if he had no chance of a gold medal.
Eddie the Eagle will hit theaters next weekend on February 26, and I truly recommend saving yourself a spot. This is the type of feel-good comedy that you don't want to miss and that you can't help but be inspired by! What athletes are you inspired by on a daily basis?
Sources: Google.com/Images, IMDb.com, Wikipedia.org