“Being a true Olympian isn’t just about talent or a skill set. It’s about knowing that giving your best is the only option, even if it results in failure.”
Cut from the Olympic ski team, British athlete Michael “Eddie” Edwards travels to Germany to test his skills at ski jumping. Fate leads him to Bronson Peary, a former ski jumper who now works as a snowplow driver. Impressed by Edwards’ spirit and determination, Peary agrees to train the young underdog. Despite an entire nation counting him out, Eddie’s never-say-die attitude takes him all the way to a historic and improbable showing at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Alberta.
The triumph of the human spirit, when faced with insurmountable odds, is one the most indomitable past times in cinematic history. Heartwarming, inspiring, joyful, unabashed, unbridled and unhindered wonderment. These are just few of the words that can be used to describe the story of Michael “Eddie” Edwards, a British Olympic ski jumper, who rose to prominence in the 1988 winter games as the first ski jumper Great Britain fielded since the 1920’s. The real life Edwards was a man of strong character, who overcame great odds to be able to represent his country on the grandest stage. The fictionalized version of the real man, is bumbling, awkward, goofy, uncoordinated, and not all what you would think an Olympian would be. While the movie version of the man is not exactly what you would call a realistic depiction of it’s non fiction counterpart, it is still an incredibly endearing symbol to base a film around. Debating the historical accuracy of the film’s subject matter is moot, because, on it’s merits, Eddie The Eagle is an incredibly inspiring film, bolstered by fantastic performances. While this might not be a straight biopic, it is still an extraordinarily fun and fantastic film that will have you smiling from ear to ear.
Sure the real Eddie The Eagle may not have been your ideal image of a true athlete, but he was no slouch. The film glosses over this, merely referencing his early success, anecdotally, in a montage as the opening credits roll. But when inquiry is made into the man, he was actually quite accomplished. Garnering trophies and medals as a young downhill skier, his dream was to be an olympian, but was cut from the downhill team before the qualifiers, effectively squashing his opportunity to represent his country at the games. Eddie would not give up and instead would simply find a new sport. Edwards moved to ski jumping and the rest is history. The real life story was apparently too monotonous for Hollywood, and as such most of this movie is surprisingly factually inaccurate, but, to be honest, it doesn’t matter. The film goes so far as to make up an entire character, create some grandstanding where there originally was none, and turn the main character into a beacon of hope for uncoordinated and unathletic goofballs. And you know what, it works really, really well. In the movie Eddie enlists the help of a former champion turned disgraced drunk in Bronson Peery (completely fictional coach), as he navigated the difficult world of competitive ski jumping. Reminded over and over again that the proper age to start jumping is around 6, Eddie begins his quest in his early 20’s. The movie is basically a slew of conceptualized cliches strung together. It is the platonic ideal of a feel good sports movie, and does not overstep its bounds at any point. It never takes itself too seriously, and is as unoriginal and formulaic as they come. Through it all, the movie works so well because, much like the man it revolves around, it has an endearing charisma and exudes an irresistible sense of spirit and vigor that radiates from the screen from it’s first to it’s final frame.
The movie is not exactly pretty. The visuals are of adequate quality, but lackluster when compared to blockbusters. Almost every jump sequence is tainted by poor CGI that makes the film a little cheap at times. The visuals may not be top tier but the story, and the pacing are wonderful. The film doesn’t waste the audience’s time by tripping over the origin, and it doesn’t get hung up on an overstuffed epilogue, and it understands that the audience comes in with a reasonable amount of understanding into who Eddie is. The runtime is smooth and the the film is edited well enough, but the real winners come out of the performances. Egerton proves that his role in Kingsman was much more than just beginners luck, and in his second starring role he dazzles. Giving us an iteration of Eddie that truly inspires. He plays the role to perfection, carrying the attitude of a stubborn goofball, with a sideways look and coke bottle glasses, but emits copious amounts of charismatic charm at every turn. Egerton effectively dominates the screen and solidifies his stardom as this lovable downtrodden young man that lifted millions with his story of triumph. Jackman is not venturing into to new territory and as such does not break new ground in his coaching role, but like always, he is a compelling character that commands attention. The chemistry between the two leads is pungent, and well orchestrated. The whole movie feels natural and the performances carry a lion share of the credit for that.
There is no doubt that Eddie The Eagle is not reinventing the wheel. It is formulaic, and it is a bit cheesy at times, but it also transcends the classic bouts of tedium and generates insane amounts of sincerity. This is a movie brimming with charm and is full of perfectly timed humor. This is a silly underdog story, that will induce cheer and warmth from all who get a chance to view it. With sports movies, there is an inherent stigma that you have to appreciate or enjoy the sport it revolves around to truly enjoy the film. If you don’t like baseball, then you probably won’t like a baseball movie, same goes for every sport. So there is a large population of moviegoers that will not see Eddie The Eagle simply because they do not care for skiing. This movie is far less about winter sports, and far more about a man who will stop at nothing to achieve his dreams. The character of Eddie, and Egerton’s portrayal, are more than enough to allow non sports fans to endure this story with a heart of gold. You will find yourself completely invested because Eddie is just so damn loveable. What may be the best part of this film is the message it relays. The moral of this story is both subtle and yet lustrous. This is not about winning, but about giving your best effort in pursuit of your goals and not giving up even when your best results in failure. Eddie The Eagle is not pandering to the hipster crowd of the “everyone deserves a trophy” era, but it relays the message to attack your dreams head on, work your hardest at all times, and give your best effort even when you know it may not be good enough. It’s beautiful in it’s simplicity, and as a result Eddie The Eagle Soars into the hearts of it’s audience.
3.9/5 Pretty Cool Bro