Eddie the Eagle charts a humorous path to Winter Olympic fame for a ski jumper who followed his dream. Taron Egerton and Hugh Jackman star in this film from Sunshine on Leith director Dexter Fletcher.
Eddie the Eagle, released just in time to savour 2016’s Olympic and Paralympic fever, is based on the true story of Eddie Edwards, a physically disabled child that grew up with Olympic dreams. He ignores his father’s pleas to join his plastering trade to become the first British competitor in Ski Jumping since 1929. Even if you don’t know the details people recognise the name and it is no spoiler to reveal he doesn’t win the gold medal.
Dexter Fletcher has created a film that encapsulates the British attitude to sport as Eddie charges on optimistically against all likelihood of success. Taron Egerton’s charming performance parallels the film’s overall tone as he does not let one drop of irony or caricature creep in with all the character’s eccentricities. The film is definitely cheering on its hero complete with his bottle thick glasses as he looks to Ski Jumping to reach the Olympics after being politely dismissed from the British skiing team for not being “Olympic material”.
Facts are not allowed to get in the way of telling a good story as Hugh Jackman’s fictional disgraced ski jumper begrudgingly becomes Eddie’s coach. Jackman is gruff and mean but warms to Eddie, like the audience, due to his stubborn optimism and determination. The X-Men star’s appearance elevates the film and does not detract from the largely accurate portrayal of this Olympic story. Plus, who doesn’t like to see a good old training montage Hugh Jackman. This film fulfils every sports film trope and cliché with a joyous sense of Olympic inspiration.
The 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary was also the time of a certain Jamaican Bobsleigh team wonderfully captured in the 1993 film Cool Runnings. This film actually makes a nice little reference to this. Cool Runnings is also a perfect comparison for this film: it has the bullying champions, the insurmountable odds, the establishment working against them, the disgraced coach and an unashamedly optimistic tone.
The character of Eddie Edwards could have easily been played for laughs, but the film goes to great lengths to avoid laughing at him, Fletcher wants the audience to cheer him on. As with Cool Runnings there is still plenty of humour and the true message of the Olympics is amplified.
It has an on the nose approach and a severe lack of irony that evokes a nostalgic style of filmmaking intensified by the 80s synthesised score. This style and tone is both the film’s greatest strength and weakness. There is no doubt this is a heart-felt and feel-good film like Fletcher’s previous effort Sunshine on Leith. However, this chosen style does make Eddie the Eagle feel ‘out of time’ lacking a modern edge or sheen and I wouldn’t be surprised if I was told this film was 20 years old. Some of the Ski Jumping visual effects look like they have aged that much already.
Eddie the Eagle is an old fashioned crowd pleasing story of Olympic inspiration, which is equally as good and bad as that sounds. A fun ride, but just like our hero this film will not be taking home any medals.
Written by Lyndon Wells
Eddie the Eagle is out now on DVD & Blu-ray. Top 10 Films reviewed the DVD courtesy of Lionsgate Home Entertainment.