Tweetable Takeaway: “Eddie The Eagle” will make you laugh, cry, and want to buy a cute ski jumping outfit from the ’80s. Tweet
Audiences love a good underdog movie. One of those movies that can inspire us to never give up on our dreams. Sometimes those movies are genuinely tear-jerking, while other times they’re smothered in so much cheese that they become unintentional parodies of the genre. EDDIE THE EAGLE straddles the line between the two, but leans more towards the warm and fuzzy rather than the sappy and silly.
The movie follows the life of Michael “Eddie” Edwards (Taron Egerton), who is based on the real-life ski-jumper of the same name. From the moment we are introduced to him, he is clearly the typical underdog with a determined heart of gold — but with Eddie, he goes an extra mile to show you how resilient he is. As a child, his knee is in a brace. In other words, he is going to have a lot of obstacles to overcome.
From the get go, he has dreams of becoming an Olympian. He starts training from a very young age. No matter how clumsy the results and no matter how many accidents he has while training, he remains confident that he will someday become an Olympian. He finally finds his groove in downhill skiing (although he isn’t the best at it) and when he gets old enough, he attempts to try out for the 1987 British Olympic team. He’s essentially told that he’s too weird and not good enough to join the team.
But just when we think he’s going to give up, Eddie discovers the art of ski jumping. So he decides to give that a whirl. He goes to Germany to train and befriends Bronson Peary, the gruff man who maintains the ski jumps. When he finds out that Bronson was once an all-star ski jumper for the American Olympic team, he relentlessly tries to talk him into being his coach. Bronson reluctantly agrees, thus beginning Eddie’s journey to the Olympics. Yes, all of this sounds like a paint-by-number sports underdog movie, but it’s the overwhelming amount of heart that makes the movie golden.
Set in the ’80s, Eddie the Eagle is a sports film, but it is also a period film. The script was floating around Hollywood for the past 15 years or so and it finally landed in the hands of director Dexter Fletcher, who created an entire universe that echoes ’80s sports films like Personal Best and All The Right Moves as well as underdog pics like Karate Kid and Lucas. From the font used in the opening credits to the synth-drenched score and the ironic use of Van Halen’s “Jump” during one of the movie’s pivotal scene, it’s these details that heighten the movie’s tone. It makes you invest and buy into Eddie’s fearless, heartfelt, and kind of bizarre approach to his dream of becoming an Olympian.
As said, the movie dips one and a half feet into the tug-at-your-heartstrings pool, and half a foot into the silly pond. When I say silly, I am referring to Eddie. He is a little — how should I put this — quirky. By quirky, I mean nerdy — but I wouldn’t want it any other way. He is unlike any underdog sports hero that you’ve ever seen on screen. He has thick glasses, he’s a little schlumpy, and he isn’t exactly the spitting image of an athlete — but none of that matters. He’s a fumbling guy that you want to root for–and Egerton does a fine job avoiding turning Eddie into a parody. Just when he is about to take the character into Saturday Night Live sketch territory, he reels it in just enough to avoid skewering the real Eddie Edwards.
To Egerton’s Eddie is Hugh Jackman’s Bronson Peary, a character created to serve the story. Granted, Jackman did a great job portraying what is probably an amalgamation of coach-like figures in Eddie’s life, but you can tell that Bronson’s character is fictional. He almost comes across as a disgruntled Fairy Godfather that only Eddie can see. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but throughout the entire movie all I could think was, “So this is what would happen if Wolverine moved to Germany and became a ski jump maintenance worker.” Jackman’s Bronson was uncannily similar to his Logan with a lighthearted touch… and he didn’t have any of that Adamantium claw stuff going on.
Eddie the Eagle doesn’t serve up anything groundbreaking to the canon of underdog sports movies, but it does contribute some badly needed optimism to what current mainstream entertainment has to offer. There’s enough gloom, sadness, hostility, shaming, and negativity out there; a movie with hope and heart doesn’t hurt anybody, and there’s a chance it’ll make even the biggest cynic out there crack a smile. And if that doesn’t do it for you, Christopher Walken makes a brief appearance as Bronson’s coach. So there’s that.
Eddie Edwards’s story is a testimony to the old saying: “It’s not how about winning or losing, it’s how you play the game.” Sure, it’s cliche, but given the current cultural atmosphere, it’s a cliche that a lot of people should consider right about now.
Score: 3 out of 5
Dino-Ray Ramos watches too much TV and laughs inappropriately during dramatic films. He’s a fan of comedy, podcasts, and comedy podcasts. He’s a reformed comic book geek and thinks “The Goonies” is the best movie of all time. When he isn’t stuffing his face with a burrito, he’s thinking about his next trip to Disneyland.
Dino-Ray Ramos | Staff Writer