The Eagle has landed!
There’s something I love about sports movies set in the ’80s. I don’t know what it is, maybe the aviator spectacles or the one-size-fits-all tracksuits. Whether it’s Rocky IV, Miracle or The Karate Kid, I can’t enough of them. I think they awaken a nascent belief in the impossible, and now that the ’80s are shining in the rear-view mirror of nostalgia, the power of these movies can only grow with time.
Eddie the Eagle is the story of real-life underdog Eddie Edwards and his rocket-ride ascent within the world of ski jumping. In less than a year Eddie went from an amateur skier to representing Great Britain as a ski jumper at the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics.
Eddie Edwards (Taron Egerton) is a 22-year-old amateur skier who’s feeling dejected after being told by the Olympic committee that he will “never be Olympic material.” Eddie’s been fascinated with the Olympics since he was a boy. For Eddie it was never about a particular sport, but more about just getting to participate at the Olympics. The movie frequently cites Olympic games founder Baron Pierre de Coubertin, who said: “The important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle, the essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.”
Eddie travels to Germany in 1987 to train with the world’s finest ski jumpers. He’s never jumped in his life, but because Britain hasn’t had an Olympic ski jumper since the 1920s, the restrictions on who can represent Britain are rather loose.
After almost killing himself on a 40 meter slope, coach Bronson Peary (Hugh Jackman) decides to help Eddie learn to at least land properly. One of the most curious things about Bronson is that he doesn’t wear a coat. He instead refers to the flask he drinks from as “his coat,” reasoning that it keeps him warm.
Eddie is a man whom nobody, not even his father, ever really believed in. Bronson is a former ski jumping prodigy who everybody believed in and took seriously, except for Bronson himself. The two form a bond over their love of the sport, and Eddie actually brings down Bronson’s defenses. By the end of the film the two genuinely care about each other.
I still can’t believe that a man literally just jumped into ski jumping a year before the Olympics, and the next thing he knew he was competing in it. I suppose I can’t spoil what happened at the Olympics, even though it’s based on a well-documented historical event, but suffice it to say that Eddie proves himself to the world and makes Bronson, his parents, and himself, proud.
Something I found refreshing about Eddie the Eagle is the fact that they didn’t give Eddie a love interest. How easy would it have been to shoehorn a two-dimensional female love interest whose dialogue consists of “I believe in you,” “You can do it!” and “I’m right there with you.” Eddie’s mom is all the support he needs, and that’s frankly adorable.
Taron Egerton, who’s best known for his role as a tough, handsome street kid in Kingsman: The Secret Service, is a chameleon as an actor. If you saw Eddie at the Olympics, he was an endearingly awkward young man, and Taron portrays all the awkwardness that the real Eddie had. He’s awkward while walking, talking and even while just peering at people. He also brings all the charm needed for the role, and has the audience rooting for him right from the beginning of the movie.
The Blu-ray extras were equally enjoyable. Let the Games Begin: Soaring with Eddie the Eagle gives a much-needed insight into the sport. All or Nothing: The Hero’s Heart nearly had me in tears. An Unlikely Friendship: Eddie & Perry showcased the chemistry between Taron Egerton (follow this man’s career) and Academy Award-nominee Hugh Jackman. Attitude is Altitude: Filming the Ski Jumps gave me vertigo and convinced me that ski jumping is definitely not for me. If Eddie’s an Eagle, I’m a turkey.
If you love feel-good movies, sports movies and/or skiing then you are in luck. I could not recommend Eddie the Eagle more.
How did you like Eddie the Eagle? Click here to review the movie and don’t forget to leave your thoughts in the comments. ~ Yanis Khamsi