The story of Eddie Edwards, the notoriously tenacious British underdog ski jumper who charmed the world at the 1988 Winter Olympics.
A movie like “Eddie the Eagle” can be seen coming a mile away. You have the clunky and awkward central character, Eddie Edwards (Taron Egerton), a young man who has dreamed of going to the Olympics since he was a kid but because of physical handicaps, that doesn’t work out so he settles for the Winter Olympics instead, the burned-out, grumpy ex-athlete, Bronson Peary (Hugh Jackman), who ended his career at its peak because of his lack of seriousness, and a slew of continuous, surmounting obstacles that continue to present themselves to our hero, only for him to overcome each one, reminding us that he is not a quitter.
Yet in spite of all these clichéd hurdles, we know he is going to conquer them all because it is that kind of movie. It is formulaic and conventional yet it still manages to work. And it works because of its two leading stars. Taron Egerton, who was so charismatic in “Kingsman: The Secret Service,” and Wolverine himself, Hugh Jackman, have undeniable onscreen chemistry that is evident from their first shared scene. And it just goes to show that the right chemistry can overcome a multitude of stumbling blocks, from a stereotypical script right down to an overly-sentimental finale.
The movie is based on the real-life story of Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards (Taron Egerton), a British skier who in 1988, became the very first contestant to represent England in Olympic ski jumping at the Winter Olympics. We see Eddie as a skier when he is a young boy, a teenager, and finally a young man and when he realizes that because of his social awkwardness, that he will never be picked for the Olympic ski team, he turns his attention to the Winter Olympics instead, and realizing that there hasn’t been a British competitor in ski jumping for many years, he makes himself Britain’s sole contender, much to the chagrin of the British Olympic Committee.
He temporarily moves to Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Germany so he can take advantage of their Alpine skiing facilities and once there, he meets Bronson Peary (Hugh Jackman), a U.S. ex-skier who was ranked number one many years ago. Taken in by Eddie’s never-say-die attitude, he reluctantly agrees to take him on and train him. Through ups and downs, Eddie finally makes the cut and is accepted into the Winter Olympics. He doesn’t go on to win or even break previously held records, but that was part of his appeal, the worse he performed, the more people came to love him and was nicknamed “The Eagle.”
I’m sure the movie will do well at the box office, maybe more so in Europe but there is no denying that it works mainly because of the charm and appeal of its two leads. While Eddie Edwards is not very well-known here in the U.S., I’m sure this movie will bring his name to a great many people, and show them what true sportsmanship is all about.
In theaters February 26th
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