Starring: Taron Egerton, Hugh Jackman, Christopher Walken
Directed by: Dexter Fletcher (“Wild Bill”)
Written by: Sean Macauly (debut) and Simon Kelton (debut)
Inoffensive, inspirational sports movies seem to be written Mad Libs-style: “A down-on-his luck (noun) dreams of being a star athlete in (name of sport), but he comes from a (negative adjective) family who wants him to continue working as a (type of humdrum job) instead of chasing his dreams. In an effort to achieve his dreams, he runs across a disgraced/retired/old legend in (same sport as before) who he begs to train him, but that person is too much of a (insert negative trait here) and wants to move on with his life. When the dreamer finally steps in to the world of (name of same sport), he’s met with derision from the (nationality and/or social class) superstar who laughs in his face, causing the dreamer’s spirit to falter. That’s when the legend steps in to coach the dreamer, and through a series of unorthodox/old school training methods, the legend will help the dreamer overcome any obstacle to get to the big (name of major sporting event here). “
Last year, “Creed” followed this formula and turned it into a rousing success, fueled by great direction and powerful performances. “Eddie the Eagle,” on the other hand, follows this formula like a pair of skis locked into the trenches of a ski jump. There’s never any doubt exactly how the film is going to land.
“Eddie the Eagle” is the true-but-really-embellished story of Eddie Edwards (Taron Egerton of “Kingsman: The Secret Service,” squinting behind geeky glasses and never quite selling it), a would-be downhill skier for the British Olympic team, except that he’s not the best skier and he’s kind of weird, so the posh British officials drum him out of the sport and force him to reluctantly work as a plasterer, like his father. You see, Eddie’s always been a dreamer, and he’s always wanted to be an Olympian – in that late-‘70s kind of way – when they became superstars. Too bad the British officials seem to hate him, for some reason. Only Eddie isn’t finished dreaming, so he decides to give ski jumping a try. He travels to Germany to train, where all hot Swedish skiers laugh at him and he nearly kills himself making jumps. That’s when Eddie catches the eye of snow plow driver Bronson Peary (Hugh Jackman, dressed like Wolverine only without the mutton chops), himself a disgraced former ski jumper with a drinking problem who first tries to talk Eddie out of the sport, but then, of course, becomes his coach, guiding Eddie on a path toward the 1988 Calgary Olympics. Stuffy British officials be damned.
You’ve seen this movie before. It wasn’t wearing ski jumping gear, but you’ve seen “Eddie the Eagle” in some form or fashion probably 10 times, if not more. Do you want to see it again? Do you care that much about ski jumping? My guess is no, and the movie probably knows this. But the synth-heavy pseudo-‘80s soundtrack is pretty great. Can I just listen to that instead?