“Eddie The Eagle” is so much so the classic underdog story that even marketing has directly labeled it as “feel-good.” And though that may come with the stigma of cheesy predictability, Eddie embraces the bumps in the road and the inevitable victory with open arms—or in this case, wings.
Eddie Edwards (Taron Egerton) is the quintessential never-give-up champion. An unlikely athlete with a paunch belly and thick glasses, Eddie has his heart set on the Winter Olympics and representing Britain as the country’s one and only ski jumper at the 1988 Calgary Games. The only problem is, he has no idea how to jump properly—but to Eddie, it’s just a matter of try, try, and try again, even if it means broken bones and trips to the hospital. His unwaning determination wins him the grudging admiration of Bronson Peary (Hugh Jackman), a washed-up, alcoholic snow plower who was once at the top of the ski jumping game. It is Eddie’s unquenchable attitude that brings back the spark in Peary as the two bond through “ugly but effective methods” of training, preparing for 70 and 90 meter jumps that would scare even the most experienced athletes.
The movie doesn’t shy away from its straightforwardness, telling it like it is: an exhilarating, inspiring breath of fresh air with its 80s’ score and underdog triumphs. Audiences will watch Eddie with a ridiculously wide smile on their faces and laugh out loud at snazzy dialogue and fun performances. You can tell when filmmakers enjoy their work—Eddie The Eagle is certainly one of those projects.
Taron Egerton (fresh off of Kingsman: The Secret Service) perfectly adapts the eccentricities of real-life Eddie Edwards, striking the balance between lovably awkward and cartoonish. Hugh Jackman shines as usual with his character’s initial cynicism transformed into genuine hope. And Christopher Walken is thoroughly enjoyable in the few minutes of screen time he gets.
There are no major curveballs in the fairly foreseeable plot. The secret of the movie lies with this: the biggest surprise is that most of it is true. While adult audiences may recall the Eagle sensation from yesteryear, Eddie’s story will astound new generations. Here is a man who stood at incredible heights fully knowing he would painfully tumble-down the slopes again and again. Here is a man who didn’t let anything stop him, not financial matters, poor equipment, broken glasses, or consecutively higher slopes. Here is a man who caught the world’s attention not because he finished last or because of his endearing clumsiness, but because he embraced the true spirit of the Olympics: “Anyone who has a go is a success.”
Eddie the Eagle flies into theaters Feb. 26.