Film Review: Eddie The Eagle

Posted in Reviews, Top Stories by - February 27, 2016
Film Review: Eddie The Eagle

In the world of American sports, as in the United States, we have become spoiled in our expectations of victory, not just at the local level, from city to city, but also at the international level, as in the Olympics. Our quote, unquote heroes mainly consist of those who have not only beaten the odds against them, but have also soared to great heights of material achievement. However, just across the Atlantic, there is a mindset quite unique from ours, which exists in the United Kingdom, also known as Great Britain. While the ultimate goal of any competitor has to be winning, the definition of such can be very different, from person to person and nation to nation.

Meet Eddie Edwards: born with bad eyesight, forced to overcome leg trauma, and possessing an unorthodox style of thinking and persona. He goes through many broken glasses, not just upon his face, but around his home and neighborhood, as well. He studies, in great depth, a book about the history of the Olympics, “Moments of Glory,” and proceeds to fulfill a childhood dream of one day becoming an Olympian. For most people, the dream would have died somewhere between our early teenage years and the onset of young adulthood, but Eddie Edwards (played by Taron Egerton, “Kingsman: The Secret Service”) is different. He has not only continued the pursuit of his childhood dream, but has also adapted to various courses, in order to get there. By 1986, he has made his way onto the Downhill Team for Great Britain, though he is soon cut from the final qualification position.

In an instant, Edwards becomes enamored with another event, which has not been embarked upon by a man in his native country for some 60 years: the Long Jump. At this point, to any audience member, this swift change in direction comes as no surprise. However, the prospect of learning a whole new sport in such a sort of time and then being effective enough in that sport to make an Olympic bid seems impossible. It happened!

Ever since the original “Rocky” film, on down through the years, the world has grown to love rooting for the underdog. A film like 1993’s “Rudy” comes more to mind while watching “Eddie the Eagle.” After all, reality often wins out over ideology. Rudy was not unlike Eddie. They were not necessarily proficient in what they were setting out to achieve. So why do we love them? I will go back to why people, in the United States, first loved the game and idea of baseball: we could relate to it and the people who performed in it. Unlike in today’s world, these players were not all-around “studs.” They all came from the same place as the rest of us did and arrived to where they went with hard work and determination. We all take that love for granted now. We see the almost inhuman things that athletes do and we just shake our heads with disbelief because we “know” we could never do that, yet we pay to see just that. Do we not?

Aside from the adorable charm and outside the box performance of Egerton, we have Hugh Jackman (“Chappie”) as Bronson Peary. He is a formerly great American Olympian, known more for his failures as an underachiever than his outstanding raw talent. Put these two on a crossed pathway and what do you get? All I can say is that the results are hard not to like. Even amidst the cheesiest of sentimental cheers and wide smiles on the big screen, you are more likely to find yourself cheering and smiling along with the film than you are to jeer or scowl at it. The majority of the rest of the cast is comprised of relatively unknown actors and actresses. In limited roles, Christopher Walken and Jim Broadbent are effective, as well. Walken is the inspiration and former coach of Peary and Broadbent, apparently going uncredited, is the lovable broadcast voice of the United Kingdom.

I must pay my respects to the original music of “Eddie the Eagle.” It is perfect in its style, as a hero’s tale from the 1980s, sporting an uncanny cross between “Lucas” and “Rocky IV.” It contains variety and nostalgia and great energy. Dare I say it should be an early candidate for the Best Original Score when February arrives in 2017? I do! If you have ever seen Egerton or Jackman before, be prepared to see them in ways you have rarely seen either of them. If you can catch the film nod to an actress spoken of during the thick of the plot, my hat tips off to you because it is a brilliant and rather obscure connection. My hat tip also goes to the makers of this film. It was fresh and exciting, while still existing within the realm of a very common movie thread. Dexter Fletcher (“Wild Bill”) has limited experience as a director, but he should score well with this one.

Official Trailer:

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