Film review: From heroic failure to cinematic success for Eddie the Eagle

Matt Adcock reviews Eddie the Eagle (PG), starring Hugh Jackman and Taron Egerton

Tuesday, 5th April 2016, 12:39 pm
Updated Tuesday, 5th April 2016, 12:41 pm
Taron Egerton and Hugh Jackman

Here we are then, a tale of courage, of death defying derring-do and erm, well, true British ‘heroic failure’. Inspired by true events, Eddie the Eagle (directed by Dexter ‘Wild Bill’ Fletcher) is a feel-good story about Michael “Eddie” Edwards (Taron ‘Kingsman’ Egerton), a lifelong loser who became an Olympic athlete.

Despite the superb Marv production team that includes Matthew ‘Kick-Ass’ Vaughan, I didn’t have high hopes for this tribute to the unlikely but courageous British ski-jumper who never stopped believing in himself. I shouldn’t have doubted – Eddie The Eagle is an absolute blast of underdog-makes-good euphoria inducing fun.

I remember being a bit confused by Eddie’s ski jumping effort when I followed his infamously average progress live on TV back in 1988. It was a mixture of pride that we had a Brit stepping up to take on the frankly terrifying, incredibly dangerous sporting challenge, and of embarrassment that he simply wasn’t very good at it. This film strikes a great balance of showing the hard preparatory work (cue Rocky-esque training montage) and the adrenalin-pumping climax and yet doesn’t over glamorize the fact that Eddie still came last.

Egerton is charismatic and does an excellent job bringing the geeky Eddie to life – showing immense range after his super cool Kingsman Agent turn last year and eating up the screen, making Eddie a very likeable British champion. Also on hand to lend some A-list cred is Hugh Jackman who plays his reluctant coach Bronson Peary, and a strong cameo from Christopher Walken too.

The ski-jumping ‘action’ is superbly shot and pulse racing, plus the film scores major points for a cracking 80s soundtrack. A palpable sense of joy flows through the movie and it’s hard to resist. Everyone looks like they’re having a good time - the supporting cast include stereotypical foreign ski-jumpers, a snooty British Olympic Committee and Eddie’s working class parents.

There are plenty of laughs to be had here too – and whilst Eddie is definitely a figure of fun, the vibe is more that we get to laugh along with him rather than just at Eddie’s seemingly overpowering hopelessness at sport.

Eddie The Eagle is a lovely movie worthy of seeing on the big screen.

* Tweet Matt: @Cleric20