Everyone loves a good underdog story, and Eddie Edwards is most certainly one of the more popular ones. Becoming qualified to compete in the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics was difficult, but if nothing else, at least serves to make clear that confidence in your own abilities and perseverance are perhaps your greatest weapons. “Eddie the Eagle” is heartwarming story of achievement in the face of possible defeat that isn’t the best sports film out there, but is one that will thaw your heart during the winter months.
Eddie Edwards (Taron Egerton) has only ever had one goal in life. That goal is to participate in the Olympics. No brace or setback is going to deter him from his dream. It doesn’t matter how he’s going to get there, he just knows that this is something he wants to do, badly. And so after years of training, he is cut from a prestigious ski team before they head off to the Winter Olympics. Tenacious and disarmingly optimistic, Eddie takes up ski jumping to get his foot back in the door and enlists the help of jaded former Olympian, Bronson Peary (Hugh Jackman), as his coach. With a lot of help from Peary, belief in himself (because he can’t rely on the support of the British Olympic board members), and little practice in comparison to his colleagues, Eddie sets his sights on the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics.
“Eddie the Eagle” is phenomenally hard to dislike. Held up by the “you can do it” attitude of its lead character, the film, directed by Dexter Fletcher (“Wild Bill”), is charismatic in its approach and stays light throughout. This is, in part, thanks to Taron Egerton’s portrayal of Eddie. Egerton is jovial and energetically bouncy with his character. His enthusiasm as Eddie is contagious and it works in maintaining the mood and tone of the film, as well as its goal.
Hugh Jackman is sort of the Wolverine version of an Olympian coach — all bark and no bite, personality-wise. He’s gruff and unapproachable at first, but lets his guard down a bit around Eddie when it’s clear that the younger man is persistent as hell. The two have great onscreen chemistry and camaraderie that becomes the heart of the film. Christopher Walken’s presence is a bit distracting at times because he doesn’t play a large role and his voice-over and later appearance pulled a few chuckles from the audience even though his character isn’t particularly funny.
However, while “Eddie the Eagle” is endearing, as a simple underdog sports story, it’s only average. This isn’t a bad thing in this case, because the film is obviously an audience-pleasing film that will surely hit all the right notes for many. It’s uncomplicated by nature and is a feel-good, warm-your-heart kind of film that will have you rooting for Eddie by the end of it. Ultimately, “Eddie the Eagle” is enjoyable, if a bit too long, and will endear itself to audiences this winter.
"Eddie the Eagle" is uncomplicated by nature and is a feel-good, warm-your-heart kind of film that will have you rooting for Eddie by the end of it.