Eddie the Eagle is Fox Studio’s latest film based on a true story. Seemingly created to be a new spin on the classic feel-good sports movie, it quickly become less about downhill ski jumping, and more of an inspiring lesson on being true to yourself.
The movie opens awkwardly, so awkwardly in fact that it makes you unsure of whether you will enjoy what you are watching. It feels slapped together, like an afterthought. But once you make it to the title screen you get the sense that it was designed to be that way; to put you inside the mind and body of the endearingly obstinate character being portrayed.
You are introduced to Eddie as a disembodied arm holding a watch out of the water, soon to be associated with a precocious little boy who has a big Olympic dream. Eddie, played by Taron Egerton, can only be described as someone with a dangerous level of enthusiasm, and an absolute refusal to take no for an answer.
Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards, born in Cheltenham, United Kingdom in 1963, was someone who everyone underestimated.
After Eddie gets rejected from the Winter Olympics downhill skiing team, he flies to Germany on a snap decision to become a ski jumper. The main character almost immediately begins butting heads with the stubborn and grumpy American drunk, Bronson Peary, played by Hugh Jackman. Finding out Bronson was once a world class ski jumper himself, Eddie makes it his personal mission to motivate him to become his coach. There were plenty of moments you could feel the main characters fear as he attempted the jumps alone, but also his need to succeed and prove people wrong, as if the pain of their judgement would somehow hurt more than any bodily harm possibly could. Using his own physical well-being as one of the tools to persuade Bronson, he is soon able to convince the broken and solitary man to join his team.
Taron Egerton does an amazing job playing Eddie Edwards, exhibiting the awkward grace and personality of the main character to a tee. It is easy to forget who the man behind the oversize glasses and ski jumping attire really is. Put the two side-by-side and you would quickly see how much of an effort was made to make this character truly real. It takes a particular talent to be able to take on a role like this, and Egerton seems to do it with ease.
Hugh Jackman, however, is the magnet drawing in the people who couldn’t quite attach to Eddie. There is something almost familiar about him, like they gave Jackman a character so normal for him to play that the role would come naturally. In fact, one of the best moments in the movie is when a drunk Bronson snaps into a set of skis on top of the biggest jump, and looks directly into the camera as he lights a cigarette. The caricature he created in full effect, as he pushes off the seat with his flannel shirt fluttering in the wind, before pulling the cigarette out from between his lips and flicking it at the screen.
Overall as a movie of its genre, it checks off everything on the standard list: heartwarming, inspiring, humorous, and emotional. It even follows the classic story line of an inspiring young person forcing the bitter recluse to give life a second chance. There were plenty of hand-wringing moments, and the plot flowed easily with no obvious clue to exactly how the movie would end; especially by those who don’t know the story of Eddie Edwards
The team behind the wardrobe, effects, and overall style were genius, creating a feeling true to the era; although for those who know Calgary, Alberta, the scenery was far from accurate. I still appreciated the nod to the Jamaican bobsled team from the movie Cool Runnings, and how after that moment it seemed to bring you back to one of the last times the world laughed with the actor John Candy.
By the time the movie came to a close, it had probably achieved what it had set out to do. It could make you look at yourself and wonder why you didn’t dream bigger, or how come you let the fear of your own potential steer you away from it.
I would consider this a great family-friendly movie that anyone could watch, and for the more nostalgic audience, one that harkens back to the 90’s when mainstream film was more fun and innocent. I will probably add this movie to my own personal collection on it's release, as it leaves you feeling incredibly satisfied when the credits roll, and wondering where the last couple hours have gone.