“Eddie The Eagle” Soars High With Egerton and Jackman
By Scott Kurland
Film: Eddie The Eagle
Starring: Taron Egerton, Hugh Jackman, Tim McInnerny, Jo Hartley, Keith Allen, and Christopher Walken
Director: Dexter Fletcher
I miss 80s sports movies. We don't really get films like “The Karate Kid” or “Hoosier” anymore. I don’t know what it is about those films, but I love them so much. It might be that they feature characters who are filled with determination. It could be the moments of humor they try and sneak in with the drama. It might even be the powerful musical scores they all had (I dare you to run on the beach and not hear “Chariots Of Fire” in your head). Somewhere in the late 2000s, we stopped making good sports films. In 2003 we had “Miracle”, but that was about it. This week, our film is “Eddie the Eagle”, and it just might be the film that brings back some of that 80's sports magic. Let’s find out shall we?
“Eddie The Eagle” is the true story of Michael “Eddie” Edwards (Taron Egerton). Ever since Eddie was a young boy, he had big dreams of becoming an Olympian. There's just one problem, Eddie isn’t the best athlete. He's not even a good one. His mother (Jo Hartley) encourages him to go for the gold, while his father (Keith Allen) is first person to point out he’s a failure. Eddie gets the crazy idea to become England’s newest long jumper (London hasn’t had one since the 1920s) and his training begins disastrously, at least until he receives the coaching he needs from former Olympian Bronson Peary (Hugh Jackman). Can Eddie and Bronson be ready in time for the 1988 games in Calgary, or will Eddie die trying?
Instead of the typical sports story of gaining glory, here we have a very special movie about hope. The message of “Eddie The Eagle” is never to give up on your dreams, no matter what. Everyone tells Eddie no, but the fact that he continues to get back up and jump speaks volumes of his character. Director Dexter Fletcher could have gone for cheap gimmicks such as the over-the-top montages or making Jackman’s character more of a drunk. I’m so glad they didn’t do either of those. The story is incredibly strong, the pacing never drags for a moment, and most importantly, the scenes involving Eddie’s jumps are incredibly realistic. What worries me about “Eddie The Eagle” is not the film itself, it’s the low box office numbers. This film is tanking even though it’s loved by the critics. This is another example of poor marketing destroying a perfectly good movie. We saw the same thing happen at the beginning of February with “Hail, Caesar,” and now it happening again with “Eddie The Eagle”.
The reason “Eddie The Eagle” is as good as it is, falls on the shoulders of Taron Egerton. We saw him as Eggsy in “Kingsman,” and he was a decent action star. As Eddie, Egerton puts his money where his mouth is and proves himself to be a very talented young actor. Egerton brings a great sensitivity to Eddie and, once that is established, we are firmly enveloped in his world. Egerton takes us on this fantastic journey. By the time we finally get to Calgary and see him compete, we’re cheering in the aisles. Egerton is the heart of this film. I know a lot of attention is being focused on Jackman, but Egerton makes this film so special. I’m a fan of Jackman, but this is a character we’ve seen him play before. Since Egerton is a newer actor, seeing him stretch his skill set after two or three roles is very impressive.
“Eddie The Eagle” has a few crass moments, but at its core, this is a family film that everyone can appreciate. We’ve seen films about the Olympics in the form “Cool Runnings” and “Miracle”, but this is the first time that we get an Olympic story not produced by Disney. I only bring this up because “Eddie The Eagle” is the best sports movie Disney never made. It has all the elements of a Disney film, including the redemption tale and learning to be proud of yourself. “Eddie The Eagle” is a wonderful film that everyone should see. Do yourself a favor and check out “Eddie The Eagle” before it leaves the theaters.
REVIEW RATING: B+