There have been a lot of sports movies released over the past few years, many of them taking a more serious bent which has made a lot of them incredibly engaging. Sometimes though, you want a film that is unabashedly goofy and sentimental, one that embraces the underdog and we’ve got that film now with Eddie the Eagle.
The film concerns Eddie Edwards a talented skier who has been trying to get into the Olympics since he was a kid. After he gets rejected from the Olympic skiing team he finds out about a loophole that means he can become an Olympic ski jumper since there are no other British ski jumpers. He decides to go to the premiere training camp in Germany, to the ridicule of the other ski jumpers, who have been training since they were kids. After repeatedly failing at the jumps he eventually gets training from Bronson Peary, a former US Olympic ski jumper who disgraced himself and is working at the camp as a snow plougher, the two of them eventually working their way to the Olympics. Now anyone who knows the story of Eddie Edwars knows that his efforts weren’t fully successful and the film knows this. It never sugarcoats how out of his depth Eddie is and how insane he is trying to do the jump and this aspect is what makes the film work. Even as you know Eddie isn’t going to succeed the way the film is presented makes you sympathise with Eddie throughout. The film also does a good job showing the struggle Eddie has and how out of his depth he is with the entire system of British athletic shoes, his family background as plasterers putting him at great contact with the upper class background of the other athletes. The film is also incredibly cheesy and sentimental, following so many of the cliches seen in sports films of the 90s, most notably Cool Runnings, with the Jamiacan bobsleigh getting a mentioned since they competed at the same Olympics as Eddie.
The cheesy, earnest nature of the film is also carried through the performances, mainly Taron Egerton as Eddie. Egerton brilliantly shows the determination and charm of Eddie, making him an incredibly likeable character who you want to see succeed. His enthusiasm for everything he does is palpable and you really understand why he became such a media darling at the Olympics. Egerton also shows how much he doesn’t fit in with the other ski jumpers, his entire attitude being at odds with theirs, along with being in contrast with the attitude of the other British Olympians, which in turn makes you like him all the more. Hugh Jackman meanwhile is entertaining as Bronson Peary, his grumpy actions for most of the film make him entertaining to watch, along with letting you know why he was booted out of the US Olympic team but, as the film goes on, his respect for Eddie and for the sport of ski jumping becomes all the more apparent, the friendship formed between Eddie and Peary being one of the highlights of the film. There are also good performances from Jo Hartley as Eddie’s mum, her belief in him being strong throughout the film, Keith Allen as Eddie’s Dad who’s attitude towards Eddie, not believing in Eddie and wanting Eddie to take up a job as a plasterer being very believable. Tim McInnerny meanwhile does a good job showing the snobbish attitude of the British Olympic board relating to Eddie, there’s some good humour from Jim Broadbent as a commentator and Christopher Walken gets a good cameo as the former trainer of Peary, adding a lot to Peary’s character development.
On a technical level, the film is very impressive, mainly in the way Dexter Fletcher directs and George Richmond shoots the ski jumping scenes. The sense of height and speed that is created throughout these scenes is exhilarating to watch, helping to show the nerve Eddie has to even attempt the ski jumps. The crashes experienced by Eddie and other ski jumpers are also brilliantly portrayed, mainly through the sound effects as you hear the bone cracking as Eddie is tumbling down the ski slope, making you feel the pain Eddie is going through. The music as well is a highlight, the use of 80’s pop music adding to the period detail whilst the score for the film is really entertaining, further adding to the 80’s vibe of the film through the use of synthesisers.
Overall, Eddie The Eagle, whilst incredibly cliched, is a lot of fun. The sheer level of joy and enthusiasm held by the cast and crew of the film in presenting the story is infectious to the audience and makes it so even though the ending of the story is obvious even to those who don’t already know the story of Eddie the Eagle you get invested in the story and want Eddie to succeed, which is the best thing any sports movie can achieve.
My Rating: 4/5