Eddie Edwards (Tom Costello, Jack Costello, Taron Edgerton) is born with knee problems that forced him to wear a knee brace until he was 15 years old. He has one dream as a child, and that is to become an Olympian. Eddie soon realized that he could not make the Summer Olympics, so he wants to try out for the Winter Olympics in 1988. He takes up skiing and then ski jumping. Eddie learns that the best ski jumpers train in Germany , so he leaves England, and goes to Germany, much to the chagrin of his father, Terry, (Keith Allen) who wants to teach Eddie the fine art of plastering ceilings.
In Germany, Eddie meets Matti Nykanen (Edwin Endre) the Finnish ski jumping Olympic champion, and he also meets a washed-up alcoholic American who’s plowing the ski runs. What Eddie soon understands that the washed-up American is Bronson Peary, (Hugh Jackman) who was on the U.S. ski jumping team, and blew his chance at a medal because of his big ego. When Eddie ends up in the hospital after a jump, Bronson realizes that Eddie is serious about ski jumping. Bronson simply teaches Eddie how to land. Eddie learns that because the British ski jumping team is non-existent, all he has to do is make a jump in a qualifying tournament and he is on the British Olympic ski jumping team, he makes the jump, and lands, but then British Olympic officials change the rules and now Eddie has to jump 61 meters, twice the length he jumped to qualify for the team. What does Eddie do next? Are his Olympic dreams dashed?
I loved this movie! It certainly helps that I remember the story from the 1988 Olympics, but I didn’t know Eddie’s backstory, and that is what makes this movie fun to watch. It’s easy to make a movie about a legendary sports star, like Babe Ruth or Lou Gehrig, but it’s sometime more interesting and emotionally fulfilling to watch a movie about a person who doesn’t care about receiving any accolades, who just want to participate, and by doing so, fulfills a lifelong dream. That’s another reason this movie succeeds, Eddie is an everyman, doing what few men could, and by watching this movie, the viewer may think that he or she could achieve a goal that seemed impossible. This movie does have flaws, the story and characters especially Peary seem clichéd. I’m sure Eddie’s story was changed and the events condensed to make the story more audience friendly. But it is a heartwarming, funny and charming film, and it made me feel good, and sometimes that’s all a movie needs to do.
Much of the charm and humor of this film are exuded by the film’s two stars. Taron Edgerton plays Eddie as a shy, awkward, slightly overweight, mama’s boy, who never gives up on his dream, despite injury and embarrassment, Eddie persists. Edgerton shows the grit, as well as the joy in Eddie, it was a great performance. Edgerton was also very good in Kingsman, playing a guy from the wrong side of the tracks, who yearns to become a secret agent. Hugh Jackman can bring charm and humor to any character he plays he is supremely talented. He takes a character that’s been played a million times, and makes the story about Bronson Peary’s redemption as well as Eddie’s dream. Christopher Walken has a small role as Jackman’s coach, and doesn’t do much with it.
Director Dexter Fletcher is mostly known for acting, his visual direction is off and on, the scenery looks spectacular at times, but at other times the ski jumps look absolutely like a greenscreen nightmare. The pacing is good and he gets good performances from Edgerton and Jackman, and the lesser known actors as well, so all in all he does a good job.
Eddie The Eagle: Soars high, lands gracefully.