Here’s the goofy guy who didn’t win anything.
But that’s okay! The story of Eddie the Eagle isn’t one about studs taking home gold medals or even plucky underachievers defying the odds to best the smarmy favorites and achieve glory for their tiny, crappy country.
Nope, our hero Eddie Edwards (Taron Egerton, Kingsman: The Secret Service) may be plucky, but (SPOILER BUT NOT REALLY), the credits aren’t going to roll on him hoisting a gold medal at the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics.
The film opens with Edwards as a child, aspiring to become an Olympic athlete despite his questionable athletic skill and skinny arms. Eventually, he find a potential path in the downhill skiing program — but it doesn’t work out.
His last, desperate gasp for a spot on the big stage is found in the unlikeliest of places: the ski jump. Britain doesn’t have a ski jump team and all Eddie has to do to make it to Calgary is qualify with a minimum distance. His newness to the event almost mandates total failure and humiliation (and there is plenty of that), but support from a washed-up American ski jumping legend (Hugh Jackman, The Prestige) propels him into the Pantheon of Olympics Mediocrity.
Actually, Eddie the Eagle is a nifty little family film and I’m glad that the Mr. The Eagle wasn’t someone who rolled out of bed and thanks to Heart and Fortitude overcame ski jumpers who had been at it since they were four. This is a story of setting a goal, a goal no one thinks you can achieve and hitting it. In the grand scheme of things, maybe the jump isn’t that great and all world records are secure — but that’s not the point. The journey is the point.
Of course, this isn’t a “everyone gets a trophy” thing either. Eddie’s road to Calgary is filled with setbacks, antagonists and tons of hard work. Our boy earned his spot in British winter sports lore.
So the story is fun; as far as the movie, it works well enough. The inspirational beats are familiar and there’s to a huge amount of suspense since we know he’s making it to the Olympics. It’s a joy to see Egerton, who played the slick, super-spy in Kingsman, go completely opposite with Eddie, a naïve, borderline-oblivious good guy who can’t catch a break. And Jackman brings his reliably charismatic self to the proceedings as the whacko American coach (alas, his character is entirely fictional, which does dull the gleam a bit of the “true story” cachet).
The Eddie the Eagle (Blu-ray) is solid, kicking off with a vibrant, beautiful 2.39:1, 1080p transfer and an active 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track. One extra, but it’s a big one: a hefty making-of featurette called “Let the Games Begin: Soaring with Eddie the Eagle.”
In the end, Eddie the Eagle get a solid recommendation, with just one caveat: there is no reason this should have been PG-13. This should be a PG movie. Only some suggestive dialogue kept it from a more accessible rating, which is a shame; it’d do some of these little a-hole kids I see running around the mall good to watch it.