Eddie the Eagle is a feel-good movie for the masses, inspired by a true story, though dramatically boosted by fictionalized supporting characters and plot points. It’s the story of Eddie Edwards, a British ski jumper who charmed the world at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary with his goofy antics, big glasses, and determination to compete despite a definite lack of world-class athletic prowess. British actor Taron Egerton (Kingsman: The Secret Service) downplays his looks and ramps up the nerd factor to play Eddie, an underdog athlete you can’t help but root for. I read that both Steve Coogan (Philomena) and Rupert Grint (Harry Potter) were once slated to play Eddie and I could totally see either of them pulling it off as well. Ultimately, it’s what Eddie represents that makes the movie work… well, that and Hugh Jackman. ☺
Jackman plays Bronson Peary, a washed-up American athlete living in Europe who reluctantly agrees to coach Eddie in his seemingly lunatic effort to qualify for the Olympic games as Britain’s first and only entrant in the ski jump competition. Eddie represents (fictional coach) Peary’s shot at redemption since he squandered his own Olympic hopes and let down the great (fictional) legendary coach Warren Sharp (Christopher Walken). Jackman’s American accent sometimes feels a bit forced, but his presence on the screen definitely gives the movie a much-needed ‘lift’ mid-way through.
Dramatic license aside, Eddie the Eagle is a decent sports movie that pays homage to the likes of Rocky and Karate Kid. It uses a largely-forgotten Olympic story to inspire kids to find their passion, follow their dreams, embrace the journey, and know that winning gold isn’t everything. So go, Eddie, go!
If you liked the 1993 movie Cool Runnings, about an underdog bobsled team from Jamaica, or sports biopics in general, then Eddie the Eagle is worth checking out.