"Eddie the Eagle" is the first "feel-good" movie of the year. And, as much as I loathe that term, actually, in this case, it's true. Whether you're old enough to remember the actual facts, or not, it's an excellent reminder that we should never forego our dreams --- no matter how many people stand in your way.
Eddie Edwards (Taron Egerton) began his childhood with bad knees, succumbing to wearing braces as a young lad. But he was determined to be an athlete. He tried many sports and settled upon downhill skiing. But he was not permitted to join the British Olympic team, even though he qualified in certain events.
His father, Terry (Keith Allen), was dead-set against Eddie trying any other sports period. He planned on Eddie beginning his new life as a plasterer --- his chosen profession. But his mother (it's always the mothers), Janette (Jo Hartley), was always on Eddie's side, providing him with unfettered support --- and money.
When Eddie discovered that the Brits did not have anyone to compete in the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary as a ski jumper --- that became his goal. He meets and enlists the help of a washed-up American, Bronson Peary (Hugh Jackman), a gifted ski jumper who was banned from participating in previous Olympic games. Together these two very unlikely partners collaborate to fulfill Eddie's dream.
Egerton and Jackman are absolutely terrific together. We all know Jackman is hugely entertaining in whatever he tries, and I love his portrayal of the fictional Peary, the alcoholic has-been who is snapped back to life by the tenacity of Eddie's will.
And Egerton, who was totally engaging as "Eggsy" in "Kingsman: The Secret Service", is again doubly charming and whimsical as Eddie. Poor Eddie didn't have a lot of friends, or people to encourage him, other than his mother, but he was unbelievably determined to be an Olympian --- and he succeeded on all fronts.
I especially adored Eddie's parents, Hartley and Allen. They provided believable performances in a story, though true, could have come off as preposterous. Hartley, especially, is flat-out darling --- she never wavers in her desire to see Eddie succeed --- nor do we ever catch her rolling her eyes. It's a wonderful ensemble cast, which also includes Iris Berben as Petra, Eddie's first line of defense in seeking his quest --- she's wonderful.
People may assume that "Eddie the Eagle" --- he gets the nickname at the 1988 Olympics after he completes a jump and celebrates by flapping his arms --- is a silly movie not worth the time. And they would be wrong. "Eddie the Eagle" is a delightful true tale of a light-hearted fellow who would not be denied. It's definitely worth your time.
Opinion: See It Now!
Crowd-pleasing movies happen every once in a while, and though "Eddie the Eagle" isn't exactly "Rudy" --- the ultimate feel-good story --- it's worth a look. Of course, anything with Hugh Jackman is must viewing, he's an accomplished actor and undeniable on-screen presence.
Based on the true story, Michael "Eddie" Edwards wore a leg brace as a youth in England, and when it was removed, he was determined to become a championship skier. When that didn't work out, he decided he would try ski jumping, and eventually qualified for the British Olympic team, competing in the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics,
Eddie's path to international fame was largely determined by (fictional in this film) Bronson Peary (Jackman) who took him under his wing and gave him enough training to become a competitive ski jumper, albeit not in the same class as Matti Nykänen, the Olympic champion dubbed the "Flying Finn". Peary himself was a great jumper under the tutelage of Warren Sharp (portrayed by Christopher Walken), until a fallout with Sharp left him a heavy drinker and chain-smoker.
"Eddie the Eagle" is a good movie for the whole family. The real-life Eddie was the ultimate underdog, and Americans and Brits, of course, love their underdogs. The jumping scenes are fairly spectacular, but I was disappointed that for each jump, at the moment of liftoff, director Dexter Fletcher's camera shifted to Eddie in flight. So the viewing audience does not experience the thrill of that precise moment when a ski jumper elevates into the air. But the landings were captured very well, so that's a small complaint.
"Eddie the Eagle" is a great lesson for kids about perseverance, determination and the fact you can accomplish your goals. Kudos to Taron Egerton who plays Eddie, the young actor so effective in "Kingsman: The Secret Service" (2014), where he starred opposite the likes of Colin Firth, Michael Caine and Samuel L. Jackson.
Opinion: Mild See It Now!