The sports genre is filled with heroic tales of athletes overcoming obstacles to win and become the best in their sport. Rudy, Rocky, Seabiscuit, Remember the Titans, these all have one thing in common: underdog victories.
But in the latest sports genre release, Eddie the Eagle, we are shown the story of the British ski jumper, Michael "Eddie 'The Eagle" Edwards, and his journey from childhood to be in the Olympics.
The film has all of the setup for another underdog victory film, but it sets itself apart from the crowd in many different ways, so let's go over the five major reasons why it's better than most:
1. The plot is an underdog tale all the way to the end.
While it certainly starts off and progresses like most other underdog tales, it differs from the rest by never turning Eddie into the victorious hero, telling the completely true tale of the young man's journey to the historic competition.
Even as Eddie thinks he's found a sport, he's turned away and almost quits his quest for good. Eddie comes so close in ski jumping, only again to be turned away due to unfair rule changes and disrespect from the Olympic community.
With all of these struggles, Eddie remains determined to get to the Olympics and compete, and his drive keeps it at the right underdog level the whole time.
2. Taron Egerton and Hugh Jackman
I mean, need I say more? Egerton, who caught his big break two years ago with Fox's Kingsman: The Secret Service, has reunited with the studio and producer Matthew Vaughn (director of Kingsman) to tell this underdog story, and he does so wonderfully.
Not only does he do a great job of shedding his gangster/secret agent look to play the more common and shabby look of Michael Edwards, and not only does he nail the look, but he also nails the performance. He brings a lot of warmth and heart to the role, helping Eddie fly like an eagle to the Olympics.
In addition to Egerton, Jackman delivers a great performance as the disgraced former Olympian who reluctantly coaches Edwards.
Jackman shows more constraint in this role than we've seen in a while from him, especially following 2014's X-Men: Days of Future Past and last year's bomb, Pan. He brings plenty of humor to the role of the drunken coach that doesn't expect much from Eddie, as well as the heart in wanting Eddie to succeed.
3. The soundtrack and score blend beautifully.
While most sports films' scores and soundtracks are known for having the uplifting music for the athlete's rise, as well as wacky music for the training montages, Eddie's music offers a unique sound for the genre.
For the more serious and intense moments, we hear a musical score that sounds similar to a villain introduction in an action movie, while the rest of the film has a very synthesized sound that evokes memories of scores from the '80s. Composer Matthew Margeson, who previously co-scored the music for Kingsman, definitely shows his talent as a solo music producer with the fast-paced and moving score.
In addition to Margeson's score, the film's soundtrack includes a number of hits from the '80s, including Van Halen's "Jump," all of which work to create a fun and warm atmosphere, even in the middle of the Canadian mountains.
4. Bo Derek
One of the best proven methods for coaching a sport is analogies, comparing the action to another action. With baseball, it can be pretending to swing an axe, or imagining the ball as the face of an enemy. For a wide receiver in football, it might be imagining the ball as a baby flying through the air, and their job is to catch it to keep it alive.
But does Jackman teach Egerton these nice, family-friendly approaches? No. Instead, he compares a ski jump landing to making love to actress/model Bo Derek, because it's obviously the best method, right? And through explaining his method to Eddie, he even illustrates how it's really the climax feeling that helps with the landing.
5. Cool Runnings
Not only are the 1988 Olympics famous for the world debut of our jumping hero, Eddie the Eagle, it also saw the incredible journey of the first ever Jamaican bobsled team, who saw a lot of struggles and adversity in their drive to get to the Olympics.
Their story was made even more famous by the 1993 sports comedy, Cool Runnings, and is considered by many to be one of the funnier sports biographies. Eddie even takes the time to make a sly little reference to the Jamaican sledders near the end of the film, with a sportscaster stating that Jamaica will try to steal Eddie's thunder the following day. It's both a funny and a smart reference for those who get the chance to hear it.