Screened Out – Eddie the Eagle

By : Stephen Miller
Comments: 0

Taron Egerton, Hugh Jackman

There aren’t any surprises in the Olympic biopic Eddie the Eagle. In fact, “Eddie” Edwards’ story – as it’s slightly modified from fact here – plays a lot like Cool Runnings, in more ways than one. It’s the ’88 Winter Olympics, and champions who never really had a chance somehow capture the audience’s admiration of the underdog. The world falls in love.

Within its rote plot, Eddie does a nice job of aping ‘80s “glory” pics, with a synthesized soundtrack, loopy camera shots, typical plots, and broad characters that would’ve felt perfectly comfortable in 1988. If audiences know that this sort of long-shot athletic story is what’s being sold, they’re going to love what they buy.

Hugh Jackman is equally handsome and bland as Eddie's coach.

Hugh Jackman is equally handsome and bland as Eddie’s coach.

British nerd Eddie (Egerton of Kingman) has always dreamt of being in the Olympics. Unfortunately, he’s an awkward kid; it’s not difficult to buy that he might have slight Asperger’s, though no diagnosis is offered for his odd behavior. Eddie risks life, limb, and eyeglasses in repeated failed attempts. Then, he finds that the UK doesn’t have a ski jumper. It’s a perfect chance to not be ousted from the team if he’s the only member in the sport!

Of course, Eddie’s mom loves him. His dad thinks he’s an idiot. His dad may have a good point; some of these jumps are scary as hell, and people die.

Eddie travels to the world’s best training ground, Germany, where he meets a drunken, lousy ex-Olympian Bronson Peary (Jackman). This is Eddie’s first hurdle of many – to get Peary to coach him while the Finnish and Norwegian teams lay bets that the Brit is going to get himself killed.

Little-known director Dexter Fletcher coaches Taron Edgerton in Eddie the Eagle.

Little-known director Dexter Fletcher coaches Taron Edgerton in Eddie the Eagle.

Director Dexter Fletcher is a little-known actor and director. He has a blast with the ’88 settings, the music, and even the corny, common themes. He pushes his actors – especially Egerton – to goofy 1980s camp versions of their personalities. This commitment to old-school theme, style, and art may be a plus or a minus, depending on your perspective.

The ski jumping is shot wonderfully most of the time. Fletcher has a great sense of how to build cinematic tension. He also brilliantly shows how high up these ski jumps are. Only one moment of obvious computer effects kills the verisimilitude of this death-defying sport.

Ratings Key

See it now! Buy the DVD! Quote lines at parties!

Definitely worth the price of admission

It’s useful as a distraction

Maybe if someone else pays and you need a nap

Slightly worse than eternal damnation

Audiences don’t really go to these sorts of films to be deeply surprised or saddened. We go to see someone stick to his guns and defy all the naysayers. These sorts of stories inspire us all to commit to our values, to be who we really are.

Eddie the Eagle gives audiences exactly what they want, with strong doses of broad comedy and feel-good bravado. It won’t bring home any medals, but audiences will still love this movie for showing up and participating with silliness and blind passion.

Share this story: