White Men Can Jump
Eddie the Eagle focuses on the story of Britain’s first Olympic ski-jumper. It’s an enduring legend because he only qualified for the 1988 Olympics due to technicalities in the entry requirement.
In this respect it’s almost like if your cat qualified for the pole vault because Eddie (Taron Egerton) proceeded to come last in all his events by a comfortable margin.
British people love an underdog story. My late aunt would always root for the least likely of heroes and I somehow have hazy memories of Eddie even though I was barely “house trained” when he competed.
If there is one thing that British people love more than an underdog it is an eccentric underdog and Eddie is just this. Taron Egerton manages to enliven Eddie Edwards as a character by some fantastic facial expressions and mannerisms.
As an audience we are given every reason to get behind him. His dad constantly tells him he is not good enough. The same happens with the Olympics committee. He stands out for drinking milk instead of alcohol in bars, he’s not well off and sometimes dresses like he crashed into a 1980’s charity shop.
Eddie has to face a lot of personal criticism and his answer comes from his unwavering determination and dedication to his sport. In an age of cyber bullying where those who don’t fit in are irrationally and relentlessly shunned someone who overcomes this in such a positive way is instantly adorable.
What isn’t quite so adorable is Bronson Peary (Hugh Jackman) who, in real life, is just words on paper. Apparently he is an approximation of both of Eddie’s coaches and whilst Jackman is enjoyable to watch his role felt obviously staged.
There are attempts to push character progression for Peary but all of it feels too convenient and too staged when compared to bizarre nature of Eddie’s ascension to fame.
One of the unexpected benefits of writing reviews such as this piece of nonsense is that I get to learn things too. Reading up on “true stories” often leads me down a Wikipedia hole that can sometimes turn up facts that can be more interesting than the actual film.
It would be remiss of me to omit Matti Nykanan who was considered to be the best in world at the time. Edvin Endre plays the rather sane and wisely Finnish ski-jumper but after the 90’s he became more famous for drink, drugs, womanising and pop music… oh, he also stabbed someone after losing at a finger pulling contest! Holy shitballs!
Anyway, whilst Jackman’s character may feel like a failure by writers Sean Macaulay and Simon Kelton to produce more than “generic fictional male” the inter-character dialogue is smart and witty, especially since it’s their first writing credits.
Eddie the Eagle, for better or worse, comes with all the expectations of a sports underdog story and is comparable to the likes of Cool Runnings. At times it’s genuinely funny and at others it’s genuinely touching. I think it’s well worth a watch but then again; I am British.
The Good, The Bad and The Outcome:
+ Great underdog story
+ Taron Egerton
– Bronson Peary as coach
– Exactly what you’d expect from an underdog story