Eddie the Eagle
Director: Dexter Fletcher
Writer: Sean Macaulay, Simon Kelton
Based on: Eddie Edwards‘ life
Cast: Taron Egerton, Hugh Jackman, Jo Hartley, Keith Allen, Iris Berben, Jim Broadbent, Christopher Walken, Edvin Endre
Seen on: 6.4.2016
Eddie (Taron Egerton) has always had one dream: he will be an athlete. And not just any kind of athelte, an Olympic athlete competing for the UK. No matter the sport and no matter that he is perpetually hurting himself in his attempts. When he realizes that there is no British ski jumping team, he sees his chance and he grabs it. Making his way to Germany to train with absolutely no support apart from his mother’s (Jo Hartley) unflinching belief in him, he meets Bronson Peary (Hugh Jackman): Bronson came close to be one of the greats in his sport, but now he makes his money driving the snow groomer. Eddie does everything he can to convince Peary to train with him so that he can take his shot.
Eddie the Eagle is a fun, entertaining film. It’s not a big cinematic revelation, but it’s a very nice watch with a good story and two engaging leads.
Despite being Austrian, I don’t give a fuck about skiing or ski jumping. And I don’t know much about it. So I wasn’t aware about Eddie Edwards before. Given his story, though, it is surprising that it wasn’t tackled before: it seems like the perfect cinematic material. And it got the fitting treatment in this film.
I’m actually pretty impressed with Taron Egerton (and his agent): After Kingsman, it would have been easy to simply coast along on his pretty face. That the next roles he got was a gay psychopath and Eddie Edwards shows that he wants to prove his range – a strategy that works out since he actually does have range. While he didn’t quite blow me away, he wasn’t bad at all. It helps that Eddie and Bronson make for a good team and that the chemistry between Egerton and Jackman is spot-on, culminating in, basically, the lift from Dirty Dancing which feels neither out of place nor homoerotic, simply the natural extension of their mentor-student relationship.
Narratively, Eddie the Eagle doesn’t stray far from the path of the underdog story. But it is a thoroughly effective iteration of the trope. Like Cool Runnings, its “where there is a will, there is a way” story manages to stay away from the neoliberal “you just have to want things enough and work hard to win everything” mentality and instead stick to the “aim high and if you fail, that’s okay – as long as you try” mentality, which is much more enjoyable and nice in my book (though not necessarily unproblematic either).
The film is funny and entertaining throughout, even if some of Eddie’s crashes did make me cringe a lot and I could have done without Bronson’s alcoholism that is pretty much glossed over. But if you want to spend a nice evening that will leave you with a grin on your face, Eddie the Eagle is a good choice.