- on Friday, 26 February 2016 16:24
- by Frank Wilkins
Believe it or not, there was once a time – long before the advent of 24-hour electronic entertainment – when the Olympic broadcast was a must watch TV event. The entire world would stop down for a few weeks as every child’s dreams of one day competing on the world stage were quickly shattered by the sudden realization that those middle school field day ribbons weren’t worth the price of the fabric they were printed on.
But that awareness didn’t stop bespectacled young Brit Eddie Edwards from following through with his dream by defying all logic in 1987 to don the skis and flightsuit as an Olympic ski jumper for Great Britain – something the country hadn’t had since 1924.
Eddie finally gets his story told in Eddie the Eagle, an inspirational little underdog tale that entertains, delights, and most important of all inspires, despite director Dexter Fletcher’s frequent use of every sports cliché in the book.
The film begins with Eddie’s early years as a physically disabled youngster with disapproving parents and zero athletic ability. Eventually, the path of least resistance becomes the avenue to his dreams when Eddie realizes Great Britain’s dearth of skiers – especially ski jumpers – means he makes the team by simply landing a jump in competition.
Eddie’s plan hits a snag though, as the British Olympic Committee changes the rules and requires a certain jump distance to qualify. But before long, it’s off to Calgary to represent his country.
Eddie the Eagle is largely supported by its two leads. Despite a cartoon-ish send up, Taron Egerton (Kingsman: The Secret Service) plays the oafish Eddie with an edge of stubborn determination and a gooey middle full of lovable charm. He pushes the pop-bottle glasses onto his nose, snaps the goggles into place, and hesitantly pushes himself towards the great white expanse below, seemingly oblivious to the bone-breaking danger. Egerton makes us perfectly happy – ecstatic, in fact – with Eddie’s last place finish in every jumping event.
Of course, Eddie would be nothing without his coach, the fictitious Bronson Peary (Hugh Jackman), a hard-drinking, chain-smoking American and former champion ski jumper who reluctantly takes Eddie under his wing. A damaged soul kicked out of the Olympics years earlier, Coach Peary now drives the grooming machine at the German training facility where he and Eddie eventually meet. Via a boiler-plate montage, he teaches Eddie the basic skills needed to keep from killing himself, but isn’t convinced he can have the kid ready before the Olympics begin.
There’s a wonderful scene of Coach Peary pocketing his flask before defiantly heading down the 90-meter ski platform while flicking a cigarette mid jump that’s worth the price of admission alone. In fact, most of the ski jumping scenes are handled with breathtaking realism by Assistant Director Vic Armstrong. Just ignore the eye-rollingly flagrant use of Van Halen’s Jump.
Though it takes many liberties with the facts and is mostly just a cookie-cutter romp through the book of sports movie tropes, Eddie the Eagle’s message about determination, tenacity, and the desire to succeed by a kid who never stopped believing in himself, sticks a perfect landing. It won’t find itself on any list of best sports movies, nor will it be remembered once you exit the theater. But it will bring a big goopy sports lump to the throats of even the most hardened movie goers.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some suggestive material, partial nudity and smoking
Runtime: 105 mins
Director: Dexter Fletcher
Writer: Sean Macaulay, Simon Kelton
Cast: Taron Egerton, Hugh Jackman, Tom Costello Jr.
Genre: Sports | Comedy
Tagline: The hysterical true life story of Britain's most famous ski jumper Eddie "The Eagle" Edwards and his journey to Olympic fame....
Memorable Movie Quote: "All the doctors said I should give up sports"
Distributor: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Official Site: http://www.foxmovies.com/movies/eddie-the-eagle
Release Date: February 26, 2016
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: No details available.
Synopsis: Inspired by true events, Eddie the Eagle is a feel-good story about Michael "Eddie" Edwards (Taron Egerton), an unlikely but courageous British ski-jumper who never stopped believing in himself – even as an entire nation was counting him out. With the help of a rebellious and charismatic coach (played by Hugh Jackman), Eddie takes on the establishment and wins the hearts of sports fans around the world by making an improbable and historic showing at the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics. From producers of Kingsman: The Secret Service, Eddie the Eagle stars Taron Egerton as Eddie, the loveable underdog with a never say die attitude.
No details available.