Eddie the Eagle is inspirational, successful in its attempts at humor, and charming despite its sometimes overt sappiness. Directed by Dexter Fletcher of Kick-Ass fame, the narrative of this film walks to the carbonated beat of the Rocky theme song, and plays out, almost entirely, as a sports montage from beginning to end.
Yet, this somehow works.
Eddie Edwards (Taron Egerton) is a gawky, physically suspect Englander who is constantly admonished for wanting to succeed as an athlete. Meanwhile, you have Hugh Jackman playing the role of Bronson Peary, a narcissistic former ski champ who finds himself spiraling into a counterproductive manual labor job unsuited for his skill set. In a sigh inducing feat of disbelief, Peary, though battling twenty years of dilapidation and rust, still manages to be amazing at what he once did best. Yeah, sure. To fit the stereotypical profile of underachiever, this character also drinks too much. But, as you might suspect, the indomitable spirit of Edwards cleanses Peary of his woes and wrongs.
The character of Edwards is brought together well enough, if not given the Forest Gump like progression from partially handicapped child to determined athlete with a bit of a developmental disability. This part comes across as a bit odd, especially after doing some reading into the backstory of Edwards; apart from being farsighted, there was seemingly nothing to be found about him having a disability. Perhaps there was character research that led Egerton to playing the character as though he did, but it didn’t quite make sense. Potential embellishments aside, Egerton brings believable elements to Edwards that, more often than not, shine through.
Jackman’s portrayal of Peary falls into the worn-out-man-on-the-mountain with hidden wisdom trope. Even with this fruitless handicap, he comes through with entertaining moments and snappy one liners. That being said, there is one particular scene, where he mimics a male orgasm, that made things awkward for the audience. It could have been his portrayal, or perhaps that there was a church group sitting in the front row, complete with younger children, that made the proceedings feel inhospitable. Essentially, the message here is: don’t bring your child to this movie if you don’t want them to know the sound of Wolverine, um, arriving. Speaking of the superhero film, Jackman played his part well enough, and even managed to do some crowd pleasing with a few sly nods to his famous X-Men role. Unnecessary sexual comedy aside – typically, it’s not horrible when in the right film – there were genuine laughs and moments of empathy that made the characters relatable.
Eddie’s journey reminds me that we all had dreams as children, and some of us have even managed to hold onto them. Our greatest regrets tend to be ignored in the pursuit of locking onto more reasonable futures. Old fires and motivations may be stoked when watching Eddie fail, time and time again, without giving up. Egerton’s character displays an ideal that we should all aspire to – you could call this movie a cheesey 80s throwback or you could call it a period piece, but the one thing it should be called is inspiring.