Eddie The Eagle ***

by Julian Stark

A charming and quirky underdog story that pays homage to the 80’s and utilizes the cheesiness of its genre for joy, not cringe.

Is it worth $10? Yes

“Eddie The Eagle” separates itself from other movies in the same genre because it is totally self-aware of the cliches and common tropes of the underdog sports tale. The way the film addresses this is to outdo it. It never takes itself too seriously, and in its complete lack of trying to be original, “Eddie the Eagle” ends up being, well… original.

The movie tells the fictionalized, sentimental true story of Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards, the first British Olympic ski jumper. It opens with him as a child, dreaming of making it to the Olympics. Never does he mention wanting the gold, only his desire to participate. He puts himself through his own trainings that either end with broken spectacles or a fit of rage from his father. Everything Eddie does seems to involve falling down, but he always gets up again. Flash-forward to 1987 and a twenty-something year old, awkward Eddie (Taron Egerton) is still just as determined as ever to make it to the Olympics. With nobody from Great Britain representing the ski jumping team, that is his best chance. All he must do is meet some fair qualifications.

The traditional underdog story elements start becoming apparent here, if they haven’t already. Bronson Peary (Hugh Jackman) is the reluctant coach of Eddie who once was a U.S. ski jumping champion before falling heavy into booze and going under the radar. He sees in Eddie the determination his own coach (Christopher Walken) said he never had, and takes him under his wing. After Eddie succeeds at the qualifier, the Olympic Committee unfairly changes the rules and he has to prove himself again. The other athletes bully him throughout. Eddie’s mom supports her son’s dreams and his dad thinks he is being a stubborn idiot. All of these overused devices could cause a rolling of the eyes, but the film does so with such an unapologetic flare that to complain about it would be futile. Especially when it is so fun to watch.

Taron Egerton pulls off the nerdy, stubborn role of the protagonist perfectly. He exhibits the mannerisms of anxiety and restlessness, while also conveying persistence and hope. He presents himself as someone who will never be first place, but might just make it to last place, which is perfect, as that is all Eddie wanted. Hugh Jackman is also very solid as Coach Peary, and proves he doesn’t need claws to evoke being badass. The two actors have great comic chemistry with each other, and it pays off in a number of the film’s most natural, funny moments. Unlike the amplified feel most of the movie has, these scenes are subtle and organic, and it works to the movie’s advantage.

The over-exaggerated and aggrandized feel of the rest of the film is prevalent from the visual style to the poppy 80’s synth music, always there to remind you that its excessiveness is intentional. Nearly every shot is bright and saturated, with cartoonish fonts and bizarre outfits. The obligatory training scene before the Olympics is set to Hall and Oates’ “You Make My Dreams.” The last few minutes have Eddie and Bronson embracing each other to Van Halen’s “Jump”. Dexter Fletcher’s directing choices cleverly walk a thin line between paying homage and satirizing the underdog genre, and in doing so, creates a sports triumphant movie experience five feet to the left of all the others you have seen.

Cron Job Starts