Part “Rudy” and part “Cool Runnings,” “Eddie the Eagle” tells the story of real life British ski jumper Michael “Eddie” Edwards who rose to fame at the 1988 Winter Olympics.
For what, exactly? To this day, that remains a mystery to me.
I remember seeing the real Eddie the Eagle on TV as a child and even then wondered why so much attention was being thrown his way. He wasn’t attractive. He didn’t have a spot of athleticism. He didn’t excel at this sport. Yet somehow, he became a big deal for not doing anything extraordinary, except for really wanting something and being really happy just to be part of the Olympics experience. And I guess that’s why I couldn’t get behind “Eddie the Eagle.”
The film itself is fine, if not familiar. We’ve all seen many films like this before where the underdog overcomes great odds to reach their goals to become an inspiration to others. Taron Egerton plays the title character, and while at first I thought he was overdoing it with all of the physical idiosyncrasies, I eventually found myself looking at him not as an actor putting on a performance but as a true character and that’s a testament to the fine acting job by Egerton. Hugh Jackman also does well as Bronson Peary, a washed up former ski jumper who’s now a drunk but sees something in Eddie that convinces him to take him under his wing.
Together they go through all of the traditional ups and downs of underdog story tropes, desperately trying to win over the audience’s support along the way. First Eddie has to overcome his father. Then it’s the British Olympic committee. Then it’s the nasty Europeans. The film tries so hard to compel you to root for Eddie against all of these obstacles and it ultimately does succeed, mostly through pure determination rather than skill, very similar to how Eddie found fame himself.
“Eddie the Eagle” is an entertaining film that will certainly please audiences with its “anything is possible” message and triumph of the human spirit but without a truly amazing accomplishment, it’s the film equivalent of a participant medal, rather than gold. But I guess for some people that’s good enough.
-originally published in Frolic Hawaii