Review: Eddie the Eagle
PLOT: The true story of Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards (Taron Egerton). A humble plasterer by trade, Eddie pursues his Olympic dream by qualifying as Britain’s most accomplished ski jumper, which proves to be relatively easy as it’s a sport the UK has never competed in.
REVIEW: As far as Olympic Games go, Calgary 1988 seemed to be a whopper. Not only was it the year of the Jamaican bobsledding team that was immortalized in COOL RUNNINGS (they get a shout-out here) but it was also the year the bespectacled Eddie “The Eagle” won more than a few hearts by participating in the games despite little-to-no experience in the sport he competed-in.
Certainly, it’s something that could never happen now (Eddie’s reign resulted in some hasty rule changes) but the story has all the classic makings of an underdog story – so much so that it’s crazy a film hasn’t been made about him sooner. Taron Egerton’s Eddie is a plucky hero, with little athletic talent, horrible eyesight and only his self-esteem to guide him on his quest. While the filmmakers haven’t done a perfect job disguising Egerton’s matinee-idol looks, he’s very engaging and shows solid comic chops. Sporting coke-bottle glasses that always look about to fall off his nose and a clumsy shuffle, he’s a good-natured hero, making this a classic British underdog story very much in the mold of THE FULL MONTY.
Producer Matthew Vaughn obviously has faith in Egerton’s appeal as a leading man, with this being their follow-up to the hit KINGSMAN – THE SECRET SERVICE. It’s a nice change-of-pace that should help Egerton avoid being pigeonholed as a heartthrob. Director Dexter Fletcher (a former actor-turned-director) directs this very much in-the-style of an eighties comedy, with an upbeat, synthy score by Matthew Margeson (with tons of pop tunes – such as Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s ‘Two Tribes’), a colorful look (lots of pinks and powder blues) and clearly defined heroes and villains.
As a result, this is an uncomplicated, audience-pleasing story that should become a sleeper hit this winter. It’s pretty clear why Fox would want to preview this at the Sundance Film Festival (where it’s the secret screening) and word-of-mouth should be great. One thing that will certainly help is Hugh Jackman, who co-stars as a drunken ski-bum/former ski-jump champ, who takes Eddie under-his-wing. It’s refreshing to see Jackman having so much fun outside of the tent pole genre, and he seems to relish the part. His chemistry with Egerton is solid, and the two seem like a natural pair, making the central relationship easy to invest in. In addition to Jackman the other big name here is Christopher Walken, who shows up as a legendary ski coach and Jackman’s former mentor. Walken plays it as only he can, and while he only really has one scene, he’s a fun addition to the cast. Jim Broadbent also has an extended cameo as a olympic commentator amused by Eddie’s antics.
If EDDIE THE EAGLE has any failing it’s that at times it aims for the heartstrings a little too obviously. Eddie’s such an earnest guy that a somewhat more three-dimensional exploration might have made the film more interesting – although then again this is meant to warm the heart and not much else. In that regard, it’s wholly successful and a good family yarn that deserves to find a big audience. It’s certainly a nice antidote to some of the heavier Sundance fare and a nice late festival treat.