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‘Eddie The Eagle’ Soars A Little Higher Than Middle Ground (Movie Review)

eddie the eagle thumbThere is nothing extraordinary about Eddie the Eagle and that seems completely fitting for the film that tells the story of an earnest young man who simply had a dream. We see lots of sports movies and some approach the genre with fresh eyes, while others revel in clichés. Given the accomplishments of the real Eddie Edwards, it seems only right that the film is a success based on achieving the minimum requirements for being a rousing feature.

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Taron Egerton (fresh off a solid performance in 2015’s Kingsman: The Secret Service) takes on a bit of a stammer and an under bite to play Eddie, a boy with aspirations of competing in the Olympics. Spurred on by his mother’s encouragement and his own perseverance, Eddie eventually finds himself training in Germany to become a ski jumper. It is there that he meets Bronson Peary (Hugh Jackman), a former ski jumper who reluctantly becomes a mentor to Eddie.

Will Eddie overcome the odds and compete in the Olympics? Will he prove everyone who doubted him wrong? These are the sort of questions that should not be hard to answer. However, whether or not screenwriters Sean Macaulay and Simon Kelton were hoping to truly invest viewers in the story’s outcome, director Dexter Fletcher has constructed a film that largely gets by on the warmth of Eddie’s persona, particularly when he interacts with Jackman’s Peary.

There is something quite entertaining about the somewhat old school spirit this film has, complete with nods to 80s montages, soundtrack choices and more. Helping to propel that is Jackman, who assumes the mentor role in a way that is somewhat ironic, given how he is chauffeuring in the new talent that is Egerton, while preparing to hang up the claws get away from the role that made him famous. If that means he gets to use his movie star charisma for roles like this (and hopefully more challenging work), then so be it.

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Many of this film’s best scenes involve Eddie and Peary working together. The best scene, however, involves Jackman showing everyone how ski jumping is done. That may sound silly, but there is a lot of fun and some thrills to take away from what looks like a complicated and dangerous sport to participate in. Again, whether or not Eddie triumphs seems like something that comes after the fact, but the film’s energy in depicting Eddie’s progression is solid.

It actually leads to another fine scene where Eddie provides a speech that digs into the spectacle he and the press creates about his story. These are areas that show me how good Egerton is and why he is so easy to watch on screen. Of course, watching him and Jackman mess around is plenty of fun too.

There is some mild commentary surrounding the nature of how class and perceived intelligence gets in the way of giving people a chance, but another film covers that and even adds a bit more edge. That would be Cool Runnings, the 1993 Disney family film about the first Jamaican bobsled team. Eddie the Eagle even goes out of the way to call out the Jamaicans, as the two films happen to revolve around the same Winter Olympics. At that point, you really do not need to be concerned with deeper themes for this film and should instead focus on the shared universe possibilities involving 1988 Winter Olympics films.

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Whether or not we do get a film equivalent of The Avengers in regards to the Olympics though, you should again be prepared to enjoy what Eddie the Eagle has to offer. It delivers a simple story and earns some heartfelt beats thanks to the commitment of the leads. Egerton continues to show potential as a young actor and Jackman is as solid as ever. Put these two together, along with some solid ski jumping scenes and the established sports movie arc, and you have a real winner, as far as modern underdog stories go.

[Note: For those concerned with the film’s accuracy, just remember – most of Rudy never happened either.]

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Writer/Reviewer, Film Lover, Podcaster, Gamer, Comic Reader, Disc Golfer & a Lefty. There are too many films, TV, books, etc. for me to list as favorites, but I can assure that the amount film knowledge within my noggin is ridiculous, though I am always open to learning more. You can follow me on Twitter @AaronsPS4, see what else I am up to at TheCodeIsZeek.com & check out my podcast, Out Now with Aaron and Abe, on iTunes.

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