Let’s get something straight; Eddie the Eagle is not a great film. It’s not. The film is filled with every trope inherent to biographical sports flicks that it verges on a parody. There’s unnecessary voiceover whenever Eddie has a moment of doubt. The quantity of slow-motion shots is almost ridiculous. And perhaps most irritating, the entire film is flooded with a 80s soundtrack loaded with glaring synths reminiscent of an arcade game.
But it’s more than just the editing and soundtrack. Hugh Jackman’s Bronson Peary plays every single coach in every single sports dramedy: a man who had his sporting career ended abruptly, leaving him an alcoholic cynic. But of course, after realizing Eddie is dedicated and spirited and oh so special, he changes his mind and decides to coach him.
Seems convenient? That’s called Deus ex machina: when an unsolvable problem is suddenly solved.
The movie is filled with it. When Eddie shows up to a ski-jumping school in the German Alps, he is conveniently offered lodging in a bartender’s home after he breaks into it. When Eddie falls from a 70 meter jump and ends up in the hospital with serious injuries, he makes a full recovery within a fortnight. And of course, he circumvents Olympic qualification requirements on a technicality.
That’s the biggest problem with this film; it feels too easy. It never feels that Eddie is being challenged. Within the first two minutes of the film, when Eddie starts to believe he isn’t destined to be an athlete, he sees a ski slope and immediately knows his career path. Even though he fails jumps, it’s obvious that after a short pep talk, he makes it.
And let’s not forget about Eddie himself. Taron Edgerton’s performance is less than believable. In Kingsmen, director Matthew Vaughn portrayed him as a suave, rebellious stud with a mouth. Here, he does a 180 as a bumbling, naïve, and socially inept young man. I’m not saying that actors can’t play diverse roles, I’m just saying that it doesn’t work here.
So yes, Eddie the Eagle isn’t great.
But that doesn’t matter.
Eddie is persistent, to a worrying degree. His determination verges on idiotic. He has a singular goal and doesn’t seem to think about anything else. Through all the messiness of the plot, Eddie’s want is clear as day. He represents the ultimate optimist who doesn’t harbor an ounce of inhibition or cynicism. And that’s why I nearly cheered when Eddie made his final jump.
And that’s what this film is; a dumb optimist in a sea of more realistic films. But maybe that’s what we need once in while; a movie that doesn’t try to be anything other than a cheesy cliché that’ll make you hate it but root for the main character at the same time.
It may be a bad movie...but it's definitely feel-good.