7 out of 10
Taron Egerton as Eddie Edwards
Directed by Dexter Fletcher
Eddie the Eagle Review:
Despite being predictable and very similar to Cool Runnings, Eddie the Eagle is a fun, feel good movie thanks to charming performances by Taron Egerton and Hugh Jackman.
This film is inspired by true events.
All of his life, Eddie Edwards dreamed of being an Olympian. Despite a lack of coordination, skill, and funds, he was determined take part in the Olympics. After trying every sport imaginable, he settled on skiing as his event of choice. However, the British Olympic Committee rejected him as a laughingstock and would not allow him to participate on their skiing team. Undeterred, Eddie found a loophole in their rules. There was no British ski jumping team and he could be it.
Now seeing a clear path to the 1988 Olympic Winter Games, Eddie only saw one task remaining – learn how to ski jump. To do so, he went to Germany to learn the sport. But without funds, equipment, or a coach, disaster inevitably struck. However, Eddie encountered former ski jumper Bronson Peary. Washed up, disgraced, and an alcoholic, Bronson was in no mood to take on the impossible task of training Eddie. However, Eddie’s indomitable spirit inspired Bronson and they soon set out to make Eddie’s dream a reality.
Eddie the Eagle is rated PG-13 for some suggestive material, partial nudity and smoking.
If you’re old enough to remember the 1988 Olympic Games like I am, then you certainly remember the story of Eddie the Eagle. He took the Winter Olympics by storm and was the underdog that you couldn’t help but root for. Remembering what a fun story he was, I was certainly excited to see Hugh Jackman and Taron Egerton bring his tale to the big screen.
If you’re not old enough to remember Eddie the Eagle, you may remember the John Candy film Cool Runnings about the Jamaican bobsled team. (I just realized that film was from 1993… maybe you don’t remember that either. I am old.) The two films are almost identical. They both feature lead characters determined to be an Olympian. They both undertake sports well beyond their skill levels. They recruit reluctant coaches, are rejected by the Olympic committees, and have spectacular failures. The characters are initially not taken seriously but, in the end, show they embody the true Olympic spirit even though they lack medals. Despite being identical in almost every way, they both work. They’re fun, predictable, and a sports film that spotlights the underdog rather than the champion. That makes the total lack or originality forgivable.
This film is in large part forgivable thanks to its charming cast. Hugh Jackman is great in every role he takes on and this is no different. His surly demeanor as Bronson Peary is a fun contrast to the optimistic and naïve Eddie. A scene where he drunkenly takes on a 90-meter ski jump is particularly amusing. But the real hero of Eddie the Eagle is Taron Egerton. He shows in this film how incredibly versatile he is. To go from Kingsman: The Secret Service to Eddie the Eagle is an impressive feat and a real testament to his acting ability. You totally buy him as the innocent-yet-determined Eddie. He really embodies the spirit of the person that everyone fell in love with at the 1988 Winter Olympics.
Since this is set in the 1980s, we get to hear a lot of ’80s music in the film. There are a lot of favorites in there, but they manage to make the best use of Van Halen’s “Jump” in quite some time.
What Didn’t Work:
Any time you see “Inspired by True Events” at the beginning of a film, you know they have taken significant liberties with the story. Hugh Jackman’s character Bronson Peary never existed. Eddie trained in Lake Placid, not Germany. He was also a bit more skilled than this film would imply. So if you go read the true story after seeing the film, you may be a tad disappointed at what you find. But, again, the movie is charming enough to make it forgivable. It’s the thought that counts.
The supporting cast is fantastic, but I have to say that Christopher Walken as Warren Sharp feels shoehorned in and criminally underused. He shows up very late in the film and has maybe a couple of minutes of screen time. He’s simply there to close out Jackman’s story arc, but his presence feels really forced.
The Bottom Line:
If you’re looking for some light entertainment or a feel-good movie, Eddie the Eagle will fit the bill. You’ll also enjoy it if you remember the real life Eddie or if you’re a fan of Jackman or Egerton.