This past week, I was given the opportunity to attend a press screening for the upcoming movie Eddie The Eagle. Going in, I wasn't quite sure how to feel about it. I mean, come one, Wolverine coaching the Kingsman kid in Olympic ski jumping? How good could that actually be? Fortunately, I was in for a very pleasant surprise.
Eddie The Eagle follows the story of Eddie Edwards, a young man from humble English backgrounds, as he sets out to be an Olympic athlete. Played by Kingsman star Taron Egerton, Eddie was out to show that people who aren't necessarily the best looking or brightest, can still achieve great heights. When he is turned down from the British downhill ski team, Eddie decides to try a more dangerous event, the ski jump, since Great Britain had no other athletes in the competition. In his journey to qualify for the 1988 Winter games, he encounters former American champion Bronson Peary, played by none other than Hugh Jackman. Together, the two outcasts fight to make history, and try and find themselves along they way.
Watching the trailer, I expected this movie to be a very cut and dry inspirational story. Heck, even the opening scenes of him as a child had me worried that this was just another movie to destined for coach bus DVD players on the way to youth camp. As Eddie grew up, however, so did the film. Producer Matthew Vaughn (X-Men First Class, The Kingsman) did a phenomenal job of surrounding this picture with a cast and crew who came from everything but conventional places. The main acting duo of Egerton and Jackman bring their action superstardom down to an emotional level where they're actually believable, actor-turned-director Dexter Fletcher made a huge impact in his first wide debut, and the music department did a hell of a job compiling that late-eighties feel we all love so much. The best of these things, however, was Taron Egerton.
I think the big eye catcher going into this film is Hugh Jackman, but he was shown up in a really big way. Most of us have only seen Taron as the young and cocky parkour hero in last year's breakout hit, The Kingsman, so there was definitely a sense of worry as to what the kid could do with a heartfelt role. Lucky for us, he knocked it out of the park. He really found a way to bring the quirks and hysterics of the real Eddie to the screen without making his character seem overly campy. Even the real Eddie Edwards was quoted, saying Egerton got his mannerisms "spot on." Jackman did well too, don't get me wrong, but it was definitely Egerton who stole the show.
If I could have one complaint about the movie, I would have to say the story arch is a little bland. It exceeded every expectation I had going in, but it still wasn't the strongest out there. That, however, is something I can live with. For one, it was a true story, so they didn't have a large amount of wiggle room. Secondly, and much more importantly, it's a movie about ski jumping. Even if the story was lacking a bit, they still made every person in that audience actually care about a sport that very few had ever seen. That, in and of itself, is a feat worth noting.
All in all, Eddie The Eagle was one of the better sports movies I've seen in the last few years. To be honest, it's very refreshing to see after watching the genre take a big downhill turn over the last ten years or so. It's also nice knowing that a young star like Egerton, who's bound to be the face of a few franchises over the next decade, can actually handle his own when needed. I'm telling you, the kid's gonna be a star, and a good one at that. So, if you find yourself out this weekend and don't wanna see Deadpool for the fourth or fifth time, definitely give Eddie a shot.