Based on true events, the film tells the story of Michael “Eddie” Edwards, a unlikely member of the British ski jumping team at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary. Eddie’s story was overshadowed by that of the Jamaican bobsled team (Cool Runnings is great, can’t deny it), but it’s still a story worth telling. Eddie’s lifelong dream was to be an Olympian - the sport was insignificant, it was the concept of being an Olympian that mattered. After trying and failing at a few sports, Eddie finally found his niche in skiing. He was cut from the Olympic trials for the downhill team, which inspired him to take up jumping. A perpetual underdog, Eddie (played by Taran Egerton, Kingsmen: The Secret Service) had more belief in himself than anyone else did, and maybe than he actually should’ve. Throughout the film, Eddie was full of innocent hubris and determination, leading him to his reluctant mentor, Bronson Peary (Hugh Jackman, X-Men franchise, Prisoners). A drunken, washed up former Olympic ski jumper himself, Peary finds himself coaching Eddie to help him do the seemingly impossible: qualify for the 1988 Winter Olympics. The two made an odd pair, but ultimately complemented each other: Peary had the flair and talent, while Eddie had the discipline that could’ve made Peary a legend. The story told has a happy ending: Eddie made it to the Olympics and, although he was the most mediocre Olympian participating, he couldn’t have been happier.
Eddie the Eagle’s greatest strength was its two irresistibly likable leads. Egerton is adorable, British, and portrays an underdog worth rooting for. Though his performance is a little overdone in order to play down his genuine good looks and charm, Egerton’s character comes across as lovable and eccentric. As Eddie’s coach, Jackman takes on the role of a bad boy former skier (a new archetype, perhaps?), who eventually uses his talent to make the dreams of his protégé come true. If you don’t at least kind of like Hugh Jackman, you probably don’t have a pulse, so he’s a perfect match to play opposite Egerton’s equally likeable character.
The film gave me a look into the sport of ski jumping, about which I know absolutely nothing. From gratuitous crash sequences to the comparison of a successful jump to an orgasm, I certainly learned a lot. Ski jumping is super dangerous, I actually don’t know why people choose to do it. Throughout much of the film, I was thinking, “is this guy crazy?” And the answer is: yes, in order to partake in this ridiculous sport, he probably is. There were several cringe-worthy, cover-your-eyes-and-hope-he-lands-the-jump moments that made the viewing experience a little stressful, but ultimately added to the satisfaction when Eddie succeeded.
Before seeing it, this film was an underdog in my eyes that I wasn’t necessarily rooting for. But I was pleasantly surprised with how much I liked Eddie the Eagle. Despite the fact that it was marketed as everything I don’t look for in a film, I found myself laughing out loud and genuinely enjoying the experience of watching Eddie the Eagle. It was one of only a few films I consider a successfully “feel good” film.