By Adam Ray Palmer
Today’s review is a humble biopic. Eddie The Eagle documents the life and challenges Eddie Edwards faced on his run-up to Olympic stardom.
I caught this feel-good movie earlier this week at the Phoenix Cinema in Leicester. There was something about the little screening I was in that made this film hit home even better. It felt like the perfect setting for an underdog story – up, close and personal.
I had been worried about seeing this film because I wanted to love it… But with talented Dexter Fletcher at the helm, nothing could go wrong surely…
Eddie The Eagle tells the story of Eddie Edwards. Edwards was notorious in the 1980s for being a British underdog ski jumper who charmed the world at the 1988 Winter Olympics. This film script is by no means original. The narrative about how one man who tries to overcome adversity has been used over and over again. Although, what is impressive about this movie is how Dexter Fletcher has positioned it.
Let’s go back to the start. Fletcher sets the tone early on as we meet young Eddie taking part in sporting failures as he constantly quips about his unlikely dream to go to the Olympics. Eddie’s Father, played by Keith Allen, enters the fray as one of the blockers in his pursuit of Olympic glory. If you are not familiar with the plot, within 20 minutes, we know this will be an underdog story with only one outcome. However, the positioning of the movie is where Dexter nails it. The fact we know exactly how the film will end is irrelevant. It’s the build-up of how we get to that moment where the movie is expertly crafted.
Another quick win that Fletcher works out is how to actually tell the story. Along with writers, Sean Macaulay and Simon Kelton, Dexter re-tells the famous story we all know and love with an even lighter tone. It’s clearly important to Fletcher that we laugh with Eddie as oppose to at him. That concept alone would have been difficult, after all, Edwards was first seen as a joker at the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics.
With all techniques considered, Fletcher and producer Matthew Vaughn positioned this film as a family comedy which works perfectly. It’s thoroughly entertaining with a few belly laughs accompanied by some great CGI sequences as Eddie hurtles down the big slopes. You forget that CGI is even being used as you’re completely invested in the movie.
Another impressive feature of this film is the young lead Taron Egerton. With the film largely focusing on Eddie’s rise in the public eye and very little is being explored about the characters around him, Taron has a big job on his hands to anchor the movie. He is aided in his quest by the experience Hugh Jackman who plays the fictional character of Bronson Peary. Bronson, the down-and-out alcoholic, helps Eddie fulfil his Olympic dream. Both titular characters get the best out of script.
Eddie The Eagle does have a few flaws but its positives definitely outweigh the former. Taron’s over-pronounced pop-eye jaw is slightly annoying to watch for an hour and a half but you can see past that. Overall, it’s a great addition to the British comedy collection. In addition, this unlikely hero will tug on your heartstrings with a poignant final sequence. The film’s message is ‘the taking part that counts’, but this movie is also the winner.
Cineroom’s Rating: 4 Stars
Eddie The Eagle is currently showing at the Phoenix Leicester – Certificate PG