When done right, sport films are meant to inspire. They honor the passion, hard work and dedication that allow athletes to achieve all forms of greatness. They teach us to value these qualities and apply them ourselves.
Eddie the Eagle is a sport film done right.
Since he was a child, Eddie Edwards (Taron Egerton) dreamed of becoming an Olympic athlete. In 1988, he became Great Britain’s first ski jumper to compete at the Winter Olympics in Calgary and gained the name Eddie “the Eagle” Edwards. This film tells the story of the numerous obstacles Edwards had to face in order to get there.
As someone who came into this film in a bad mood, I smiled all throughout it. Everything in this film works. From the performances to the direction to the comedy, Eddie the Eagle is refreshingly confident in its storytelling. Known for his role as Eggsy in Kingsman: The Secret Service, Taron Egerton is almost unrecognizable playing Edwards, yet he manages to be equally charming. The film is at its strongest when he and Hugh Jackman share the screen thanks to their wonderful chemistry.
Another thing that works is the soundtrack. 80’s music has impeccable range. One moment, it can be lighthearted fun. The next, it can be emotionally uplifting. It can reach climactic heights, or offer a sobering tone when all seems lost. Eddie the Eagle is the film this music was meant for. With a fantastic 80’s score, the film effectively teleports audiences back to a time where bright colors and earnestness were embraced.
More importantly, however, Eddie the Eagle succeeds in making audiences fear every jump Eddie makes. By never downplaying the dangers of ski jumping, the film builds multiple moments of tension throughout the story that prevent the film from dragging. Unlike a certain movie about an Olympian I saw last week, Eddie the Eagle isn't afraid of focusing on the sport.
Even the film’s imperfections are logical. One can argue that Edward’s main adversary is his father. Played by Keith Allen, Terry Edwards is by far one of the most annoyingly pessimistic characters in cinema. However, his final moment salvages the character and makes his conduct easier to accept. Let’s not even begin with Tim McInnerny’s character. He always finds a way to demean Edwards and his accomplishments to an exaggerating degree, despite Edwards proving early on that he is a talented skier. There is no punishment to his elitist behavior, which leaves audiences unsatisfied with his character’s conclusion.
Finally, the film could have also done a better job at explaining why Edwards did not wait for the next Olympics, where he might have had a better chance at competing. Maybe it’s his desperation to compete. Maybe it’s his lack of confidence in being able to do this again. Point is, I don’t know and I should.
It somehow feels ironic that within the first five minutes of Eddie the Eagle, Jesse Owens makes a small cameo through a picture. Despite Edwards’ lack of impact on politics in comparison to Owens, Eddie the Eagle is everything I had hoped Race would be; a film that uplifts audiences with its story and heart. Both films have their share of clichés, but Eddie the Eagle shows that clichés are just as effective as when they were first introduced if implemented well.
Eddie the Eagle is one of the best feel-good films to come out in recent years. The story is more than just ridiculous and fun, it is also true.
Eddie the Eagle was released nationwide on February 26, 2016.