Eddie the Eagle

February 26, 2016 by  
Filed under Jerrod, Reviews

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?

Seven Psychopaths

October 12, 2012 by  
Filed under Cody, Reviews

Starring: Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Christopher Walken
Directed by: Martin McDonagh (“In Bruges”)
Written by: Martin McDonagh (“In Bruges”)

In a scene pulled straight from the Quentin Tarantino playbook, “Seven Psychopaths” opens with two assassins having an innocuous, and quite funny conversation about shooting people through the eyeball. It’s unique, quick-witted and sets the tone for the rest of the film. It’s also incredibly well-written, which shouldn’t come as a surprise considering the source. After writer and director Martin McDonagh made his mark as an accomplished playwright and wrote and directed his Academy Award-winning short film “Six Shooter,” McDonagh wrote and directed his first feature, 2008’s “In Bruges,” which won him critical acclaim and a Best Original Screenplay Oscar nomination. Though less successful than his first film, “Seven Psychopaths” still carries some of the traits that make McDonagh stand out as a true talent.

“Seven Psychopaths” follows Marty Faranan (Colin Farrell), a screenwriter struggling to pen his next film. Marty’s friend Billy Bickle, (Sam Rockwell) who desperately wants to help him write the script, works with his partner-in-crime Hans (Christopher Walken) to kidnap dogs for rewards. When Billy kidnaps a dog from angry gangster Charlie Costello (Woody Harrelson), Charlie will stop at nothing to get it back, bringing Marty, Hans and Billy into his sights.

Though it’s marketing materials make it seem like there is a giant ensemble cast, the film truly belongs to Farrell, Rockwell, Walken and a bit of Harrelson. While Farrell is good as the straight-man, Rockwell and Walken steal the movie. The grossly underrated Rockwell shines as the unstable and violence-obsessed Billy, executing stupidity and brash personality perfectly. Once again, Rockwell proves to be incredibly versatile and truly shows his capability of carrying a film. Though he doesn’t do much else than play a variation of his eccentric self, Walken soaks up McDonagh’s material and fits right in with his counterparts to form a great chemistry between the trio.

If there’s one thing that holds “Seven Psychopaths” back, it’s the films narrative ADD. Since there is a screenplay within the film, McDonagh shows scenes that function as Marty’s would-be movie intertwined with the dog-napping situation that is currently happening. Nonetheless, McDonagh’s best material comes in the scenes of Marty’s potential film, none better than a brilliantly written scene about a revenge seeking Quaker. In line with the dark comedic tone that McDonagh masters, there are plenty of memorable moments of sheer excessive comic violence. In a particularly uproarious scene,  Billy pitches his idea for the film that is so gloriously over the top, and expertly performed by Rockwell.

Fans of “In Bruges,” shouldn’t expect the levels of rapid-fire, whip-smart brilliance that McDonagh’s earlier film provided. What can be expected, however, is a unique, unapologetic, filthy and darkly funny movie experience. While there are some problems with “Seven Psychopaths,” particularly with the occasionally wobbly narrative structure and a stronger first half, the film succeeds on McDonagh’s satirical and meta screenplay, which could possibly be a dark horse contender for another original screenplay nomination come Oscar time.