Director: Dexter Fletcher
Cast: Taron Egerton, Hugh Jackman
Running Time: 105 min
Everyone loves a good underdog story. From Rocky to Rudy, underdogs have been winning audiences over on the silver screen for decades. Add Eddie the Eagle to this list as a film that has enough heart and charisma to distract from the clichés and charm audiences.
Based on actual events, Taron Egerton plays Eddie Edwards, a klutzy but good-hearted Brit who has always dreamed of competing in the Olympics. When he fails to make the team for downhill skiing, Eddie sets his sights on ski jumping since he would be the only Brit competing for a place on the team. With a dogged determination and endless optimism, Eddie eventually cajoles the washed-up ski jumper turned alcoholic Bronson Peary (Hugh Jackman) to become his coach and together they set their sights on qualifying and competing in the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary.
You basically know how the story goes. Underdog gets told he’ll never achieve his goal, underdog faces challenges, underdog overcomes challenges and naysayers to achieve said goal and celebrates. Still, even though Eddie’s story hits familiar beats, his story has a few tweaks that make it more unique. For instance, Eddie’s dream is to be in the Olympics – not to medal in the Olympics. Thus, he doesn’t mind getting last place if it means he gets to travel to Calgary. It’s a refreshing spin on the whole “gold or nothing” spiel of other films. Plus, as they mention in the film, his passion is a reflection of the true Olympic spirit, where competing and having fun are more valuable than winning.
Taron Egerton is incredibly endearing as Eddie. Having previously only really seen him in Kingsman: The Secret Service, he’s almost unrecognizable here. His face is affixed with a permanent grimace that makes him look like a bulldog puppy wearing ridiculously thick and large 80s-style glasses. Egerton adds a lot of physicality to the role, constantly bumbling about and tripping over his words while still keeping an undercurrent of stubbornness and optimism. In the end it just adds to Eddie’s charm. Hugh Jackman is also fun to watch as Peary and although nothing all that special stands out, he does a fine job supporting Egerton.
Part of the fun of the film is its setting. We spend most of it in the late 1980s and every part of the film seeps with it. The clothes are all bright jackets and pastel sweatshirt monstrosities. Eddie’s glasses and paltry moustache (no doubt trying to copy hunk Tom Selleck) couldn’t scream late 1980s more if they tried. On top of that, the soundtrack is full of upbeat synthesizers that add a humorous tone to the whole film because it’s so fun yet over the top.
Eddie the Eagle is an uplifting tale about a man who refused to give up on his dream. While that story has been told many (MANY) times, the film is still charming enough to get away with it. It’s clear that everyone involved put a lot of heart and love into this film and in the end, you may even walk away a little more inspired to pursue your own dreams.