Dexter Fletcher / Taron Egerton, Hugh Jackman, Christopher Walken / Comedy / 2016 / PG / 105mins
The story of Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards hit the big screen, bringing wholesome charm, characteristic feelgood vibes and a swathe of 80s memorabilia.
One of the few humans to essentially go viral in the pre-internet era, Edwards came to prominence at the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics which also saw another feelgood act – the Jamaican bobsleigh team. He was the only ski jumper representing Britain and was entirely amateur, in every sense of the word: a self-funded plasterer from Cheltenham who had always dreamed of being an Olympian, no matter how badly he performed.
Taron Egerton is outstanding in the leading role and a step above the rest. Equally vulnerable, plucky and adventurous, Egerton shows the aptitude of a Hollywood veteran. The acting by some of the fringe actors, the mum and the dad for example, show this is, ultimately, an indie film filmed with TV talent. They may not be acting greats, but at least they contribute to the warm feel of the movie, plus they allow Egerton to thrive.
It’s also a shame they’ve had to dramatise Edwards’s life by adding the fictionalised version of coach Chuck Berghorn with Bronson Peary (Jackman), and I assume his drinking problem is also a touch of imagination too. It takes a lot away from the achievements Edwards garnered all on his lonesome.
Speaking of Jackman, he’s alright as the tough All American. His sex-pression scene is a When Harry Met Sally-orgasm scene wannabe, both funny and terrifying at the same time. It reminded me of him doing Wolverine… Jackman can’t tell the difference between sex and a mutant’s war cry, apparently.
But it’s so wonderfully British. The script is marvellous: bugger this, bugger that, and of course his mum’s ‘I’m Eddie’s Mum’ sweater. Perfect funny, wholesome charm the family can get behind. Plucky British amateurist struggle against the bureaucratic corporate machine: on its day, nothing can beat a working class film.
Even as a technical piece it’s rather seamless. The climax montage, for example, is perfect. Characters open mouthed, waiting to see if he’ll make it, the deafening silence – typical but essential. And my word, I love the whole ‘Christopher Walken is a skiing demi-God’ thing. Because Christopher Walken is life. Can you imagine him shredding up a mountain? Of course you can, he’s Christopher Fucking Walken.
Being the little blockbuster that could, Eddie the Eagle has it’s shortcomings. The score annoys me to no end, it sounds like an arcade machine on meth. Why? Was Eddie an arcade whizz? You can picture the boardroom meeting, “80s? SYNTHS!” “BOOM! Done.” 80s exploitation seems to be a tad prevalent right now.
I like the nod the film gives to Cool Runnings. Of course, this film has a lot to owe that and is in many ways the spiritual sequel. But you’ve got to commit to the good vibes otherwise you’re going to want to faceplant the floor.
Film as a Film – 2 / Target Audience – 4 / General Audience – 3
The DVD release for Eddie the Eagle is Monday 8th August.
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By source, fair use via Wikipedia.
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