Review: Eddie the Eagle – A Small Film with a Big Heart

Posted by at 3:26 pm on February 25, 2016

eddie_the_eagle-3If you’re a fan of a classic underdog sport story like “Rudy” or “Cool Runnings” both feel good movies from the 90’s, then this week’s release of “Eddie the Eagle” should be at the top of your weekend “Things to See” list.

Eddie is portrayed by Taron Egerton (Kingsmen: the Secret Service) as an awkward deformed child whose dream seems impossible fantasy. Despite having a father (Keith Allen) who does not believe in him, Eddie uses his defiance to prove his father wrong. He becomes the first athlete to represent England in ski jumping though England refuses to fund him. Defiance becomes Eddie’s friend. His mother, (Jo Hartley), also defies her husband when she funds Eddie to make it through the trials which leads to his triumph. Eddie the Eagle is about honoring defiance and a mother’s nurturing love. After Eddie takes his first step to making Olympic history by qualifying to compete in the Olympics for England, he makes an odd, strange dance for the crowd and waves his arms in a motion much like a soaring eagle. Hence the press calls him “Eddie the Eagle.”

Egerton’s performance is the real deal. His character in this film couldn’t be any more different from his work as Eggsy in “Kingsman.” Where that role was about streetwise swagger, this one is about charm, perseverance, eccentricities, and tiny nuances. As portrayed here, Edwards is a bit of a nerd-type, but Egerton brings a truly endearing quality to this role. We want to root for Eddie, and not to make fun of of him.

eddie_the_eagle_poster_headerHugh Jackman plays Eddie’s charismatic, yet also rebellious coach Bronson Peary who in a garage teaches Eddie how to ski jump. Eddie reveres Peary whose determination to teach Eddie enables Eddie to qualify for the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics. By qualifying Eddie defies all odds. Even his team mates mock him and get him drunk though he does not drink so that he passes out during the Olympic opening ceremony. Cruelty drops off of Eddie’s courageous back as he uses it as a catalyst to overcome.

As Peary, Jackman turns in a solid, though not overly nuanced. All the clichés are seemingly in place: Peary is an alcoholic, a burned out has-been hoping to return to his former glory by living vicariously through Edwards. The thing is that Jackman is so darned likable, funny, and so charismatic that we don’t really mind.

Christopher Walken plays Warren Sharp, Peary’s former coach, who gives Peary the boot after he can no longer control him. Walken and Jackman, have one great scene, Walken apologizes to Jackman whose defiance again triumphs over Walken’s pride, and that unfortunately, is the sum total of their interaction.

“Eddie the Eagle” is unabashedly lighthearted, and while it’s certainly inspirational in its own way, it’s more amusing and sweet than all-out dramatic. It also manages to playfully mock underdog sports movie tropes, even though that is essentially what it appears to be having fun with. This is all by design, though. Director Dexter Fletcher uses a light hand and he, along with producer Matthew Vaughn are huge fans of this kind of film. In fact, Vaughn, who introduced the world to Egerton by way of last year’s entertaining spy flick, “Kingsman: The Secret Service,” has never been shy when it comes to professing his undying love for “Rocky III” — he recently listed the Stallone sequel as one of his all time favorite films. Sean Macauley and Simon Kelton wrote the screenplay, which is based on a book by Kelton.

The movie is generally on target but doesn’t always hit the mark. There are a few scenes in which a handful of CG-looking snow jump wipeouts distract a bit from what otherwise feels like a movie that might have actually been produced in an earlier time. As we mentioned before, “Eddie the Eagle” might have benefitted a little from a more developed subplot revolving around Peary and his mentor Sharp. These are fairly minor complaints though.

We get to hear a lot of ’80s music during the film. There are a lot of favorites in there,  and yes, they manage to make the best use of Van Halen’s “Jump” at the right point in the moive.

In the end,“Eddie the Eagle” though fluffy is a satisfying piece of entertainment. Safe for most family viewing, it’s a lively crowd-pleaser. Its main goal is to inspire, but it’s also out to make us smile. Better still, “Eddie the Eagle” enthusiastically suggests that we should always follow our dreams and that success isn’t always measured by our number of wins. It’s drive, effort, and our willingness to try that counts.



4 out of 5


Taron Egerton as Eddie Edwards
Hugh Jackman as Bronson Peary
Christopher Walken as Warren Sharp
Jo Hartley as Janette Edwards
Edvin Endre as Matti Nykänen

Directed by Dexter Fletcher


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