Eddie the Eagle makes for a really good sports film, with a sport you would have never expected to be so captivating, Ski Jumping.
The sport itself is insane, skiing off a ninety meter jump that will horribly injure you if you can’t stick the landing, missed ski jumps have ended the careers of the best competitors in the world. Eddie Edwards does not come close to being the best in the world, he’s lived his whole life never been the best at anything, but Eddie’s never stopped dreaming of being an Olympian. When he gets kicked off the rebooting of the British Olympic Ski Team for not being proper enough, Eddie’s Olympic dreams seemed dashed. That is until he discovers a loophole in the British Olympic Regulations and he realizes he could become the team’s lone ski jumper. Eddie sets off to Germany to train and he convinces a reluctant, disgraced American ski jumper to train him just enough to make the Olympics.
Eddie the Eagle has everything you want in an uplifting sports movie, an underdog, a little comedy, big high stakes moment, comically villainous obstacles, but what makes the film work is its star Taron Egerton. Egerton plays the goofy Eddie with such earnest abandon, you can’t help but fall in love with the guy and root for him. Eddie’s small beginnings being taken to such amazing heights is exhilarating stuff, but Egerton gives the film so much heart that you can’t help but get swept up in it all.
The filmmaking also makes the most of the limited settings of the sport of ski jumping, always coming up with new and inventive ways to shoot the jumps to keep them fresh. Sure, a couple of shots look a tad too cg’y, but most of the footage looks so good you can forgive the hiccups. I haven’t watched ski jumping in the Olympics in some time, but Dexter Fletcher gets some amazing shots that put you right in the shoes of Eddie, while doing a great job of showing you the sense of scale on display. Fletcher also keeps the film always moving forward, and while some relationships might feel a bit easy because of this, I think the tradeoff is worth it in the end.
Hugh Jackman plays the American failure, Bronson Peary, who learns to become a coach as he works with Eddie, and Jackman is a great balance to Eddie’s goofy positivity. Jackman isn’t unlikable, but he’s still playing a jerk, tough to do. The only issue I have with Peary is his arc isn’t entirely earned, and I think that mostly has to do with the fact that the redeeming plot he is given with his old coach never quite gels; and then it’s there. It gives some added depth to Jackman’s character, but it ultimately feels awkward, especially by the time they wrap it all up. Jackman and Egerton have a great chemistry though, and their relationship is what really makes the film work.
Eddie the Eagle might be running a bit of a formulaic sports movie gauntlet, but there is so much heart here that you can’t help but go along for the ride. Egerton is great in the lead, and Jackman provides some great supporting work for Eddie to keep bouncing off of. You will root for Eddie to fly, you will be on the edge of your seat as he keeps upping the ante, and I think you will find it hard not to be touched by Eddie the Eagle’s story. The best ski jumping movie you will ever see.