#REVIEW: “EDDIE THE EAGLE”
Review by David Baldwin for Mr. Will Wong
In the late 1980s, British underdog Eddie Edwards (Taron Egerton) is determined to represent his country in the Olympics. He is not accepted as part of the national skiing team, but is not discouraged. He discovers that no one is competing as a ski jumper for the UK – except Eddie has never ski jumped. So he begins practicing, and under the coaching of washed-out American ski jumper Bronson Peary (Hugh Jackman), Eddie makes a play to compete in the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympic Games.
If you know the spectacular true story of Eddie the Eagle, then you know where the story goes from here. But for those who do not, what follows is the first wildly enjoyable surprise of 2016.
Egerton stole practically every single one of his scenes in last year’s wildly-audacious Kingsman: The Secret Service, and he turns in another terrific performance here as the titular Eddie. He is not really bright, and it Egerton is honest in his portrayal, lending plenty of heart to the real life subject. Some of what happens has been embellished, yet Egerton never lets that get in the way of his performance. He is a genuine delight, and pairing him up with the infinitely charismatic Jackman only strengthens his performance. Jackman himself is great, but this kind of role is nothing new for him – he has continually perfected it in virtually every non-Wolverine related Film he has worked on over the past 15 years.
I was a little disappointed to find out Jackman’s character was created specifically for the Film, but that is about the only thing I would hold against it. It hits the right elements of fun, humour and emotion, and where other sports films forcibly pander to the audience, Eddie stays resolute. Yes it is fluffy, and yes it does have a certain element of schmaltz. It does not even do anything particularly innovative. But thankfully the writers and the cast put in the effort to ensure it does not fall into the trap of becoming a paint-by-numbers story. And if you ever needed a reason not to try ski jumping, the absolutely brutal wipeouts will be more than enough. Even the obvious CGI-created accidents appear more realistic and harrowing than you can imagine.
Eddie the Eagle is a rare, genuinely feel-good Movie. I had a smile on my face throughout, and even the most predictable moments may leave you breathless. Jackman is great, but the real heart and soul of this crowd-pleaser belong to Egerton. If you thought he would be a one-note wonder after Kingsman, you are sadly mistaken – he is the real deal and is destined to fly like Eddie.
20th Century Fox Canada release EDDIE THE EAGLE on Friday, February 26, 2016.