Sports movies have a special place within the cinematic library. There is something even more unique about the movies based on the Olympics. Eddie the Eagle is loosely based on the life of Eddie "The Eagle" Edwards who briefly took the world by storm at the 1988 Olympic Games in Calgary. Edwards became a real-life Rocky story by becoming the first British ski jumper and setting the country's personal record at the Games. He then gained national attention for his joyous post-jump celebrations for simply competing in the Olympics and staying upright for each jump.
The story is adapted for the big screen in Eddie the Eagle, which is directed by Dexter Fletcher and stars Taron Egerton (Kingsman: The Secret Service) as Edwards and Hugh Jackman (X-Men: Days of Future Past) as his mentor Bronson Peary. The sports drama combines the fish-out-of-water comedy found in movies such as Cool Runnings, while also getting to the core of what makes the Olympics special by bringing to mind triumphant sports films such as, Miracle. If you are a fan of underdog sports stories, here are 4 Reasons Not to Miss 'Eddie the Eagle.'
Taron "The Chameleon" Egerton
While Kingsman: The Secret Service introduced the world to Taron Egerton, Eddie the Eagle proves that the young actor will be around for some time. Egerton has already shown that he has action-star charisma and it would seem natural for him to coast on that persona at this point. However, he proves that he has character actor chops as well, by transforming himself into the unlikely Olympian misfit. Egerton's weight gain and awkward physicality convincingly masks the leading man gravitas we have seen previously. His performance in Eddie the Eagle looks to be the next step in his burgeoning Hollywood career and will be looked back as a defining moment. It will be exciting to see what new opportunities arise as a result of his performance as Eddie "the Eagle" Edwards.
The Thrill of the Sport
The Winter Olympics only comes around every four years and it certainly lies in the shadow of the Summer Games. So most people are not as familiar with the adrenaline rushes, injuries, and life-threatening chances that are inherent in the sport. Director Dexter Fletcher manages to put the viewer in Edwards' skis at the pinnacle of danger and the visceral exhilaration he creates, is not found in most sports movies. The action of ski jumping is also shot with the familiarity of the X-Games, which adds an additional layer of intrigue every time the accident-prone Edwards steps on the slopes.
Jackman's Charismatic Leap
Hugh Jackman's character Bronson, is effectively the drunken, American version of Mr. Miyagi and Jackman eats up almost every opportunity that he has on screen. He plays a former Olympian who had superior talent, yet blew his chances at glory and has lost his direction in life. However, his training of Edwards leads to one of the showstopping highlights of the movie. After getting publicly disrespected at a local saloon, Bronson gets back up on the slopes to show Edwards, and everyone watching, how to really ski jump. It's a scene that is shot with an unbridled joy and majesty, while the movie star charisma of Jackman literally drips off the screen. It's rare when when a single sequence is worth the price of admission and this one definitely qualifies.
The Perfect 80's Movie
It's rare to come across a movie today that is full of the same naive optimism that was found in comedies made in the 1980's. As soon as Eddie the Eagle kicks off to a whimsical 80's jam, the approach by director Dexter Fletcher immediately cues the viewer to not only the time period, but also the genre at hand. Whether it was Hoosiers, Karate Kid, or Major League, the underdog sports hero was a huge part of the formula used in the era. Eddie the Eagle does not take long to make its case as a modern successor to the feel-good movies of the time. With a soundtrack and lead that is so full of joy, it will be hard to not leave the theater smiling about the journey that it takes you on.
Eddie the Eagle is in theaters now.
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