Possible spoilers ahead!
Eddie Edwards (Taron Egerton) was just a child when he became obsessed with becoming an olympic athlete. There was one itsy little problem however: Eddie lacks any natural athletic abilities.
Despite this, Eddie is determined to achieve his dream of competing as an Olympian for Great Britain, so he trains harder and with more enthusiasm than his rivals. To the surprise of everyone (even his parents), Eddie’s determination pays off: the Olympic hopeful becomes an accomplished downhill skier. However, British Olympic officials don’t believe Eddie fits the mold of a British Olympian, and they dismiss him from the ski team.
Instead of allowing his Olympic dream to end, Eddie begins training as a ski jumper – in the hopes of competing in the 1988 Games as the sole British jumper. Thanks to outdated qualification guidelines that had not been updated in about 50 years, and no other British athletes to compete against, Eddie sets out to meet the minimum requirements to become an Olympian.
Along the way, Eddie befriends a former ski jump champion, Bronson Peary (Hugh Jackman), who challenges the aspiring athlete to set an even higher goal: don’t just make it to the Olympics, wait for 1992, and do your best. Young Eddie Edwards however, has other plans.
Based on a true story, “Eddie the Eagle” is a light-hearted and thoroughly inspiring underdog tale, and a damn good movie too! The performances from Hugh Jackman and Taron Egerton are spot on, and there’s great coach/athlete chemistry between them. The movie has plenty of tension, excitement and humor.
Director Dexter Fletcher uses plenty of familiar biopic plot devices in this dramedy. He’s not changing the biography film genre here, but with a sport we haven’t seen in movies much (if at all), plus a charming everyman hero, and a clever retro score from Gary Barlow, “Eddie the Eagle” soars higher than many similar films.
Taron Egerton’s performance ensures that Eddie is a charming (and peculiar) hero. His story makes you want to root for him, even if you know he doesn’t stand a chance at an Olympic medal. One of the things I liked about “Eddie the Eagle” is that not once does the movie portray Eddie as an awkward outcast that has no business in ski jumping. The filmmakers treat Eddie like a real person, and give his story plenty of respect.
Hugh Jackman is a scene-stealer as Eddie’s American coach, Bronson Peary. By the way, this was an entirely made-up character by the filmmakers, but Bronson does have his own emotional arc to navigate. And just like with Eddie, you care about what happens to him.
I was very impressed by this movie, and it is one of the better sports movies I’ve seen in a while. With this type of movie I guess a lot of liberties have to be taken in order to capture the spirit of Eddie’s story. But after the movie was over, I was a little disappointed to learn that “Eddie the Eagle” is more fictional than expected.
But in the end, whatever changes were made worked. You still get the central point of the film: a tale about overcoming adversity, facing fears, setting big goals, and inspiring others.
“Eddie the Eagle” is a celebration of the sport of ski jumping, and one of sportsmanship. This film should give audiences a greater understanding and appreciation of ski jumpers, and what it means to be an Olympian.
“Eddie the Eagle” final score: 8.5