Eddie the Eagle (2016) Review

Director: Dexter Fletcher

Runtime: 106 minutes

Cast: Taron Egerton, Hugh Jackman, Mark Benton, Tim McInnery, Jo Hartley, Keith Allen, et al…

Plot (taken from IMDb): The story of Eddie Edwards, the notoriously tenacious British underdog ski jumper who charmed the world at the 1988 Winter Olympics.


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Everyone loves an underdog, right? Eddie the Eagle follows the true-life story of Eddie Edwards, a plucky (if rather eccentric) British ski-jumper who competed in the same Winter Olympics (Calgary, 1988) that brought the world a certain Jamaican bobsled team.

Eddie the Eagle follows in the footsteps of Cool Runnings. It’s heart-warming, hilarious and tells a good tale (embellishing the facts somewhat in the process). It’s not as silly a film as Cool Runnings, but it is just as recommendable. We see Eddie grow up in the film, finding his feet in the world of sports. Most of those around him (including his father) don’t think he’s up to serious competition in any sport, which is backed up by a glorious montage of all his failures. Eddie has terrible vision, is clumsy and generally a little… odd. We see him get knocked down, but he gets up again. He doesn’t let anything get in the way of his Olympic dreams. The perfect ingredients for a feel-good underdog story.

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After years of failure in other sports, Eddie learns of his one last chance at becoming an Olympic athlete – ski-jumping. Due to a loop hole of sorts, he was able to take part in the Winter Olympics as the UK’s only eligible athlete in the sport. No one wants him there, but he digs deep and tries to unlock his potential in the sport. Turns out he’s pretty rubbish. As he is constantly reminded by his rivals, Eddie has not had the years of practice required to become competent at such a demanding sport. It’s presented in a rather similar way to the opposition athletes in Cool Runnings, made up, but adding drama to the plot.

Hugh Jackman’s character, too, was created for the film. Bronson Peary, the drunk ex-pro makes for a great foil to Taron Egerton’s wonderful portrayal of Eddie, but he is entirely fictional. This is a re-telling of a true story, but one that has been added too. The additions make for an enjoyable tale featuring multiple strands of character plots, no matter how false they might be. Some may see it as trivialising a real-life story to some extent, but I felt the changes made allowed for a more enjoyable, cohesive tale for the cinema than Eddie’s real-life story.

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What hasn’t changed, however, is what Eddie achieved. The film really captures the feel-good atmosphere around Eddie Edwards. He became a household name in the UK thanks to his excitable personality and his story of a no-hoper done good. Everyone watches as the man they wrote off competes, egging him on to do even better. You’re on the edge of your seat as you watch him speed down the daunting ski-slope for the first time. Even if you know what happened in the end, you’re actively willing for Eddie to succeed. You want him to prove all his doubters wrong. It’s a great underdog sports movie.

Summary:

Whilst a fair amount has changed in the move to the big-screen, Eddie the Eagle’s plot retains all that was important about the real-life character’s story. It’s feel-good cinema at its best, and you’ll be cheering Eddie on no matter if you know what’s going to happen or not.

4.5/5

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