Eddie the Eagle [2016]

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Desperate to compete in the 1988 Winter Olympics, the tenacious Eddie Edwards (Egerton) teams up with disillusioned sportsman Bronson Peary (Hugh Jackman) to defy his father, his critics and the odds to become a ski jumper. 

Director: Dexter Fletcher

Starring: Taron Egerton, Hugh Jackman, Tim McInnery, Jim Broadbent and Christopher Walken.

From the warm environs of Eddie Edward’s 1970’s childhood home, to vistas if intimidating ski slopes complete with the fashion choices of the late 1980’s, Dexter Fletcher creates a nostalgic and comfortable feel to the tale of the famed ski jumper.

“Comfortable” is definitely an appropriate word to apply to this movie since visually, it looks good, with a great range of bright colours and lively edited but apart from the close ups of Edward’s gurning face in midflight it plays its shot composition very safely.

From what the real Edwards says, the movie takes various liberties in regards to the true progression of events, and essentially, the finished product is what you would expect from and already seen in sporting underdog movies such as Rocky (1976) and Cool Runnings (1993).

Indeed the script is to blame for this, since various parts of the dialogue are less than subtle, and key moments in the story are signposted well in advance. There even is a training montage, accompanied by an appropriately frothy, boppy soundtrack. This cheerful pop musical accompaniment naturally runs throughout the course of the movie, yet depending on your tastes, it isn’t necessarily a bad collection.

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However like its protagonist, the qualities which would sink lesser movies add to its charm somehow; the vocal exchanges, though on the nose, do elicit a few hearty laughs and poignant moments, but it is the cast who really enliven the proceedings.

Peppered with a good British support which includes Tim McInnery’s snobbish naysayer and Jim Broadbent’s newsreader, the heart of the movie is in Taron Egerton’s performance. Edward’s facial tics and expressions could have been off-putting in lesser hands, but Egerton is effortlessly charming as the determined Olympian.

Much of the humour comes from his fumbling social interactions and antics on the slopes, which are not mean in nature and never  ridicule him. In fact, his failings only serve to make the character more endearing; coupled with his fictional, gruff and troubled mentor played by Hugh Jackman (showing an often sidelined nous for comedy and compassion) they together form a genuinely pleasant team to watch and root for.

Though Eddie the Eagle is clichéd and brings little that is fresh to the table, its strong warmth and infectious enthusiasm ensure that the movie flies on regardless of its failings, much like its eponymous hero.

 

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