Eddie the Eagle

I’m willing to bet you right now that when you leave the theater you’ll be saying, “You know, I’m glad I saw this film.”

Eddie the EagleWhy is it that the American public seems to reject inspiring films? Does everything have to be a cross between Star Wars, The Avengers and Jurassic Park?

Why wouldn’t you want to see a film about a little guy who becomes a folk hero even though he finishes last in a major athletic competition? Which is a roundabout way of strongly suggesting that you take the time to see Director Dexter Fletcher’s Eddie the Eagle. Based upon a true story concerning British ski jumper Eddie Edwards and his participation in the 1988 Calgary Olympics, you are reminded that it is the spirit of competition that defines a true champion, not the person who wins a medal.

While the movie starts out a bit slow, it catches speed at the same time that Eddie captures your heart. Eddie is an only child growing up in a working class English family. He has a loving, tender mother (Jo Hartley) who allows him to pursue his dream of becoming an Olympic champion even as his father (Keith Allen) urges him to reject his fantasy and follow him in the plastering business.

With his dream of becoming an Olympic skier falling short, he suddenly realizes that England has not had an Olympic ski jumper since 1929. Having absolutely no experience competing in that dangerous sport, he sets his sights on achieving the impossible.

Faced by a surly Olympic Committee that keeps raising competition standards with the expectation that he would fail to meet them, he decides to pursue competition throughout Europe with the hope of making a dream come true. In the process, he falls under the guiding wing of Bronson Peary (Hugh Jackman), an angry man who danced on the edge of greatness in the ski jump years earlier before falling short and embracing alcohol as a full-time sport.

The strength of the film flows from the relationship of Eddie and Mr. Peary, and Eddie’s dogged determination eventually wins over his new coach even though he seldom is without a cigarette or a flask. As expected, Mr. Jackman is persuasive in his role, but it is Taron Egerton who dominates every scene as the 22-year-old Eddie.

If you stick around for the final credits, you will see that Egerton has adopted a physical appearance that closely resembles the real life Eddie. Interestingly, Eddie is not a physically attractive young man, which is a long way from the dynamic characters Egerton played in two films I loved from 2014, Kingsmen: The Secret Service and Testament of Youth.

If you still harbor some doubt about this film, I urge you to reflect on history and remember that Eddie participated in the 90 meter jump at Calgary, an event that he had never practiced. He became a legend at those Olympics simply because he found a way to land without killing himself, and the actual cheers from the crowd will bring a tear to your eye.