Released: February 26, 2016. Directed by: Dexter Fletcher. Starring: Taron Egerton, Hugh Jackman, Jo Hartley. Runtime: 1hr 46 min.
Inspired by the life story of Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards, the only slightly fact-based Eddie the Eagle is a touching story about chasing a dream.
What makes this so inspiring is that Eddie was never the most natural athlete. He’s shown with a brace on his knee from a young age, but he would have these passions for different sports where he just wanted to go to the Olympics.
This seemed to be after he read a book, Moments of Glory, about notable moments at the Olympic Games – and he wanted one of those moments for his own.
After Eddie, portrayed by Taron Egerton, isn’t able to go along with the alpine skiing team because he just isn’t “Olympic material,” he has to forge his own way to the 1988 Winter Olympic Games by becoming his own ski jumping team.
We see Eddie’s journey there alongside his very hesitant coach, Bronson Peary, portrayed by Hugh Jackman.
The characters at hand are definitely the beating heart of the feature – where in a sports movie like this, if the main character isn’t great – nothing about it works. It’s not the case with Eddie Edwards, as he’s really just an inspiration.
He’s just the poster boy for trying the best someone can do and just never underestimating themselves. He’s also truly a role model for any kid on the playground who was always picked last. He’s just inspiring for those who aren’t natural athletes – and basically, everyone.
The reel counterpart of Edwards is Taron Egerton who was great in Kingsman: The Secret Service. He’s excellent here, too, even if he’s much less cooler than a spy. The way he looks adversity in the face and bounces back as Eddie is marvelous.
He truly sells the optimism and tenacity of the character. Also notable is Hugh Jackman as the drunken coach. He, as well as Egerton, brought a ton of humour to the film and their banter was delightful.
The characters surrounding Eddie very much get the Hollywood treatment. There’s an unprecedented amount of cruelty from even those close to Eddie – where his sweet mother (Jo Hartley) seems to be the only person to believe in him throughout the film.
The British Olympic Association were depicted as especially cruel – where they tried their hardest to not allow him to compete in the Games. They seemed afraid because he’s not exactly the face that sponsors might want to invest in. The Committee think he doesn’t have any of the qualities of an Olympian – even though he sure as Hell has more heart.
The cruelty from basically everyone just feels a bit over-the-top in its lack of realism, but it just seems tailored to make us angry that they’re undermining him and make the audience root harder for Eddie.
It’s manipulative in a way – but it works. The cruelty probably did get so Hollywood because only about 10 to 15 per cent of this is factual, suggested Edwards himself in an interview with BBC.
The film still tells a rousing tale all the same, and it appears to keep the absolute heart of the man and his spirit and love for the sport intact. It only adheres to sports movie formulas on the road to the Olympics – and going against it since Eddie wants to participate and isn’t a natural athlete.
He’s like the Rudy Ruettiger of ski jumping – he just wants to show how much heart he has and have his moment to shine. It’s a feel-good, lighthearted underdog story and I found myself smiling throughout.