As a boy, Michael “Eddie” Edwards (Taron Egerton) dreams of competing in the Olympics. Which event doesn’t matter, just as long as he gets to take part in that mythic contest. The only problem is that his athletic ability doesn’t match up to his enthusiasm – not in any single area. Undaunted by that fact or by his father (Keith Allen)’s keep-your-head-down-son attitude, he discovers that there’s also such a thing as the Winter Olympics and, after unsuccessfully trying out for the British ski team, discovers the Scandinavian-dominated sport of ski jumping, which hasn’t had a British competitor since the 1920s. Pitching up in the Alps, he begins to practice with wild, untameable enthusiasm and nothing else, crossing paths with alcoholic former American champion Bronson Peary (Hugh Jackman), who professes at first not to like him, but before you know it, Peary’s coaching Eddie and the two are on their spectacular way to the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary.
Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards was a real-life figure, generating approximately as much media attention at Calgary as the Jamaican bobsled team; however, while Cool Runnings went almost straight into production, this similar comedy underdog inspirational sports biopic has taken over twenty years to materialise. It’s a wonder, when the topic is the sort of thing that writes itself. That’s not intended as a knock against the screenplays, by first-time writers Sean Macaulay and Simon Kelton, because it is sweet and it is funny, but those after surprises had better look elsewhere for them. Sweetness is the order of the day here, and it comes through in almost every aspect of the film, from the faithful, if clichéd, period look and sound of the movie, to the work by Sunshine on Leith director Dexter Fletcher, and most especially it comes through in the performances. Egerton and Jackman have both previously worked with producer Matthew Vaughn, in Kingsman: The Secret Service and the X-Men movies respectively. There is a noticeable continuation of a theme established in Kingsman, of Egerton’s character struggling to transcend the social class into which he was born, against resistance both from members of his own class and of that into which he is attempting to rise. But in neither case is it ever really in your face, and for the most part Eddie the Eagle, like its real-life subject, is just happy to be here.
Eddie the Eagle is out today on Blu-Ray and DVD, will you be grabbing yourself a copy? Let us know in the comment box below!