“Eddie the Eagle” is the latest film that captures the Olympics and the second one that tells an underdog story at the 1988 games, with the other being “Cool Running.”
The film’s first half hour follows the titular character, Eddie Edwards (Taron Egerton), through childhood. Edwards is completely obsessed with going to the Olympics and much of his youth is spent trying out a selection of different sports, with them all ending in failure.
That is until he comes across skiing, which he is actually pretty good at. Unfortunately, the British Olympic officials decide to not take Edwards with to the 88 games in Calgary, which spurs the protagonist to find another route to the event. His solution is ski jumping and he finds help in a washed up, former champion named Bronson Peary (played by Hugh Jackman).
It’s easy to throw “Eddie the Eagle” to the side as just another inspiring sports story, but despite being a rather clichéd film, it carries the ability to win over an audience. The combination of having a likable protagonist who never gives up and capturing an intense, dangerous sport through the lens manage to pull off a win at the theater.
The movie also doesn’t overstay its welcome by having a runtime be too long. Unlike last week’s film “Race” about Jesse Owens’ Olympic journey, which came in at two hours and 14 minutes, “Eddie the Eagle” comes in at a much more manageable hour and 45 minutes. While the film may not have an extensive depth, its exploration of a driven man is compelling.
Another similarity with “Race” is that “Eddie the Eagle” is mainly centered on an athlete and a coach and how the relationship grows over time. Suffice to say, the coaching relationship between Egerton’s and Jackson’s works to a point.
There’s no doubt that there are some cheesy moments for both and it certainly doesn’t help that Jackman’s character was actually fabricated for the picture. That said, the characters were fun and most importantly, shown as having a lot of heart which helps a ton in this kind of movie.
The supporting characters in “Eddie the Eagle” is where the movie hits a huge snag, though, and it nearly sinks the entire thing. Almost all of the other characters featured in “Eagle” are over-the-top and cartoonish despite not needing to be.
This is especially true with the more antagonist characters, who come across as downright villainous. For example, every time Edwards is shown just having a bit of fun at the games, the lead official for the British Olympic committee is always seen with a scowl or a harrumph.
A saving grace for “Eddie the Eagle,” which I’ve already stated, was how the sport of ski jumping was caught on camera. Whenever Edwards would be on the launching point at the top of the high jumping towers, I was on the edge of my seat.
There’s a scene in the third act, for example, where Edwards has to go up a series of elevators to get to the launch point and it captures the scope of how wild the sport is.
While “Eddie the Eagle” has its problems, mainly with its supporting antagonistic characters, the arcs of the two lead protagonists along with the spectacle of ski jumping on film make for a good experience. 3 out of 5.