Movie Review: Eddie the Eagle

Eddie the Eagle is backed by great performances and deft camerawork, but this true to life story is heavily fictionalized, forgettable and more concerned with myth-making than the personal journey of its titular character.

Inspired by true events, Eddie the Eagle is a feel-good story about Michael “Eddie” Edwards (Taron Egerton), an unlikely but courageous British ski-jumper who never stopped believing in himself – even as an entire nation was counting him out. With the help of a rebellious and charismatic coach (Hugh Jackman), Eddie takes on the establishment and wins the hearts of sports fans around the world by making an improbable and historic showing at the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics. [20th Century Fox]

People love to side with the underdog because it requires low emotional risk yet deliver high emotional reward, hence the yearly feel good movie based from a local legend.

Eddie the Eagle is able to deliver that kind of movie with two talented leads.

Taron Edgerton, sporting an overbite and a habit of stooping, is affable as the persistent Eddie. Hugh Jackman proves to be a good foil as the reluctant coach. While Edgerton is the lead, Jackman’s character is what makes their dynamic work.

When the two try their best to conquer the slopes, there’s a clear sense of danger and exhilaration thanks to the camera work. The director is able to capture the tension of making the jump, which leads to rewarding moments of flight.

Eddie the Eagle doesn’t miss a beat, delivering every moment to lift up your spirits through the journey of an amateur. Feel good movies tend to be predictable and cliches are to be expected at some point, but this adaptation is only concerned with its titular character as the misfit turned ski jumping sensation not the person underneath.

It’s not surprising to learn that this is a heavily fictionalized story. When not doling out cliches the movie overstates everything. This includes a coach who’s not only a has been once genius, he’s also a drunk who treats his flask as a jacket, disrespects the sport, and reduced to a maintenance dude who lives in a shack. As usual he has odd teaching methods, which entails putting Eddie on top of a moving old van who can’t get past 70 mph that’s included in a montage reel. The awkward ginger has to deal with the usual bullies, including Swedish players who don’t have any reservations on going naked. Eddie’s story doesn’t have a shoehorned love interest, but he’s immediately seduced by an older woman who conveniently lets him stay in a restaurant in exchange for late night “visits”. Of course back at home, he comes from humble beginnings with a dad who has a blue collar job and a supportive mum.

The ending couldn’t be anymore sillier as Eddie literally rises above the occasion and predictably succeeds. There is a brief moment when the movie poses an interesting question – should the Olympics uphold strict standards in favor of professional athletes or welcome the amateurs to celebrate the human spirit, as what competitions are intended for? Unfortunately this is set aside for more easily digestible entertainment.

Nonetheless, it can be said that this is what Eddie the Eagle set out to do and accomplishes it. It’s a forgettable feel good movie, but not without its charms thanks mostly to its cast.

My Rating: 5/10


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