Sports biopics have always been the way to go for Hollywood to tell stories of success against impossible odds. These inspirational films try to comprehensively tell people's life stories and dramatize important years of their lives. More often than not, these tales of encouragement are told in such spectacular ways that end up trying to achieve maximum effect with the audience by suspending all disbelief, creating epic accounts of astonishment.
Lately, this genre has lost its essence for the simple reason that the movies are now competing with each other trying to be either the most epic or the most uplifting and ironically, the movies end up betraying their nature by trying to win over the audience at all costs. The issue is that the reaction should be left to the moviegoer and not the movie trying to force a feeling that should come naturally.
Fortunately, Eddie the Eagle is not one of these films.
Director Dexter Fletcher’s approach to this story is so simple yet full of charm. It is your standard story of a person with a wild personality but even wilder dreams. Michael Edwards, also known as Eddie "The Eagle" Edwards (Taron Egerton), always dreamed of becoming an Olympian but he wasn't naturally gifted, he had bad knees and poor eyesight. His dream was constantly in danger of being crushed but, thanks to his perseverance, he found a loophole. Great Britain didn't have ski jumpers so all he had to do was land a particular jump and he’d become the only British ski jumper at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary.
The acting from Hugh Jackman, who plays Eddie's reluctant trainer Bronson Peary, and Taron Egerton playing the titular Eddie, is honest and memorable. Jackman always fills the screen with his charisma and shows that he's still got it. Egerton shows that he is no fluke and the young actor has a bright future ahead of him. He is so talented that you completely forget that he played the reckless, hot-headed Eggsy in Kingsman: The Secret Service. He is that good. But again, the story is so heartwarming that it always remains front and center and the actors never try to outshine Eddie's tale, respectfully staying in the passenger seat.
The cinematography provided by George Richmond in conjunction with the music Matthew Margeson came up with, create an environment that fits the quirky yet serious tone of the film. Even though there are some laughs throughout, the way the film looks, feels and sounds, never lets us forget about the scope of Eddie's challenges and the dangers he has to face to achieve his dreams.
Throughout his journey, Eddie had his naysayers, bullies and financial obstacles. Without a doubt, Eddie tries to reach his goals with sweat, blood and the power of optimism. And that's exactly why Eddie the Eagle is such a magnificent film. He had one goal: to become an Olympian. No more, no less.
So what makes this movie so special? To answer that question, I have to use another movie as comparison: Rudy.
I grew up watching Rudy. Every time someone asks me about the greatest inspirational movie I've ever seen, I always say Rudy. Rudy and Eddie the Eagle share a lot of similarities: a man with an impossible dream, a person close to them that believes in their dreams (Rudy's best friend and Eddie's mom) and a disgraced athlete that quit too soon and finds in the titular character some sort of redemption (Charles Dutton's Fortune and Jackman's Bronson Peary). But the best thing about both movies is that they know the message they want to convey: to never give up.
Every generation looks for that bit of inspiration to follow their dreams finding it either in someone close to them, a life changing event, an inspirational book or a motivational film. I found mine in Rudy years ago.
There is a quote that Eddie says to his trainer Bronson:
"I have been waiting all my life for my moment. Here it is. My moment is now"
Eddie the Eagle reminded me what I felt watching Rudy for the first time. That was my moment right there, but that was then. Today, a new generation will be looking for their moment and Eddie the Eagle is that moment.
Eddie the Eagle made me smile from ear to ear and not only because of its uplifting message. It's because I was happy to know that a new generation will be fortunate enough to have a film that won't force feed them a premise and instead, it will be there waiting patiently for its audience to reach to it, whenever they need it.