Eddie The Eagle is actually a story I didn’t know that much about, I was obviously not alive when he took part in the Olympics and all I have to go on is archive footage, that being said though, I was really excited to see this film, purely on its cast which sounded fantastic and the fact that the film is Directed by Dexter Fletcher who became famous after being in Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrells and is now pretty much famous for being Jamie Oliver’s mate, plus you have Kick Ass and Kingsman The Secret Service Director Mathew Vaughan as a Producer, which definitely makes up for the fact that the two writers Sean Macaulay and Simon Kelton were making their screenwriting debut with this film. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got nothing wrong with watching someone’s first go at writing or directing, it’s just normally your first go isn’t necessarily your best work, though of course there is an obvious exception to the rule, the BAFTA’s have a whole category for Outstanding Debut by a writer, director or a producer as a category. There must be enough good ones coming out for that category to be in place, one of the best films I have seen this year so far was The Witch and that is both the writing and directing debut of Robert Eggers and by the way, if you like good horror films and you haven’t seen The Witch, I would highly recommend going to the cinema and seeing it or getting it on DVD when it is released, because at the minute this is already an early contender for my Best Film of the Year. Can this film bring the feel good British Drama that we want to have or is it going to be like Love Actually, where everyone around me likes it and I absolutely don’t!
Eddie Edwards (played by Taron Egerton) vows to go to the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, however, he is not considered good enough in his downhill ski event, so he decides to take up the role of ski jumper since there is no British ski jumping team, so ergo, as long as he at least becomes semi professional he can at least represent his country. He therefore goes to Germany to train to be a ski jumper with help from a new coach, the disgraced American jumper Bronson Peary (played by Hugh Jackman).
Eddie The Eagle has been billed as the feel good British story of the year and I honestly didn’t quite know what to expect going into it since the critical response has been rather varied. For example it has a 77% score on rotten tomatoes, however Metacritic has a score of 54 out of a 100. My personal opinion, however, is rather varied when it comes to this film. I think this film will appeal mostly to people who were around in the 80’s that will gain some nostalgia from it, which is why it doesn’t appeal to me fully seeing as I wasn’t even alive then, but I really did enjoy the film on quite a few levels.
It has a good script, the cast is pretty good and I would even say it has some good central performances and a decent running plot, but the plot doesn’t fully work, by which I mean, it’s rather generic. This is a very generic sports movie, in fact it almost, at times it feels like it is written by an American writer because it very much resembles a lot of movies of that sort, in fact many people might see a similarity with the film ‘Cool Runnings’ not helped by the fact that the film actually does make a reference to that film. That’s not to say the film doesn’t have a British feel to it, it does at times feel like a British comedy, but it’s hard to get round the fact that the majority (and I do mean the majority) feels like we’re are going through typical sports films cliches. You have the underdog rising to the top, the coach who he thinks he is not going to get along with initially but then then find the connection to one another and better one another, the professional sportsmen are all jerks and so on and so forth, you get me, if you have seen one sports film you seen them all, and I like sports films, there are some very good ones out there, especially if you kind of like this formula, but I kind of expected more with this film and that may be my problem, maybe my expectations were too high. The one thing the film does get right is, it gets the Olympic message right, this film feels very well timed considering we have the Rio Olympics coming up in August and because of current rules now, Eddie would not be able to enter the Olympics again and it feels against the Olympic movement. I get a sense that the writers were trying to harken back to the original Olympic spirit when the modern games were first started and Eddie’s story really does help that, and I’m glad that got the primary focus. But, this is where my other point lies, some of the characters change their minds at the drop of a hat and while it probably did play out like that on some level in real life, this does feel a bit over the top and again I’m the first person to say bio pics aren’t meant to be documentaries, they are meant to be entertaining. This film is rather entertaining at some points, there are some excellent scenes, particularly towards the end when Eddie is talking with the Finnish champion which I won’t spoil because I think it’s worth seeing for yourself and I would even go so far as to say I really liked some of the gags. The training montages aren’t too long, but get the point across pretty well and I would even say there is some really well shot scenes of the ski jumps.
I think my problem is that I wanted to love the movie, and the film’s plot didn’t really give me a reason to do that. At times this film feels like it wants to be ‘Billy Elliott’ or ‘The Full Monty’, the film even kind of makes references to Billy Elliott at points but then it kind of changes its mind and wants to be Cool Runnings again and I don’t feel the two styles mesh too well.. So, as it stands, I can only say it was OK and rather passable and not the exceptional British comedy I wanted it to be and it’s so disappointing because I feel that this movie had a ton of potential. The writing is there and there are some genuine funny jokes that made me laugh, plus I felt like it told a very good story and kept me invested, but I wouldn’t want to re-visit it any time soon and in the end I just thought it was kind of there and I’m not sure this plot did much for me overall, but I will admit the last third of the movie is where it really excels and gets to the level I wanted it to get to. Though, I would admit this is also where you start noticing some of the cracks from earlier and a lot of the generic sports movie tropes.
As for the cast, well, they are pretty good for the most part. Taron Egerton is excellent as Eddie Edwards, this guy is becoming one of my favourite actors working today because he can take several versatile roles and excel at them and hold his own with top A listers as he has proven. He has now gone 4 for 4 with the brilliant First World War drama ‘Testament Of Youth’, the previously reviewed ‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’ which I loved and even added it to my Top Ten films of 2015 and the Kray brothers biopic ‘Legend’ and once again he proves himself in this role being excellent as Eddie Edwards. Now I recognised him in the role but thats probably because I’m used to seeing the actor and a lot of people who I pointed it out to after seeing the trailer can’t believe it’s him, so obviously he is the spitting image of the guy which is very noticeable with the photos they show during the credits. Hugh Jackman is really good at times in his role as Bronson Peary, even though he does kind of underplay his parts at times but him and Taron Egerton have very good chemistry and you really believe the coach/student relationship that they have. I would even go so far as to say that I would like to see them team up again for another movie because it really does work. I would also say that once again Hugh Jackman gives a good American accent, but that’s hardly surprising considering he has been playing Wolverine for several years. Jo Hartley and Keith Allen give decent performances as Eddie’s parents, but other than that there really weren’t any other performances that really stood out because everyone else is kind of reduced to cameos in this film. Tim McInnerny gets a part in the movie as the head of the Olympic Committee, but he is basically playing the same stuck up posh guy that he plays in all of his films, so this really isn’t a stretch for him, when he first appeared I thought he was reprising his role as Captain Darling in Black Adder, while he does gain a few lines his role is basically an extended cameo. Jim Broadbent does a decent job playing a British commentator and sounds natural in the part and everyone else is kind of people you will recognise from British television shows. I do have to applaud the film for getting actual Scandinavian actors to play the Scandinavian parts which add an extra sense of authenticity. The weirdest casting however is Christopher Walken in his cameo as Bronson’s trainer. His part feels like the biggest concession to American audiences which feels rather surprising in a sense because I don’t believe this film will find much of an American audience anyways and he mostly contributes voice overs and does very few actions in person and he doesn’t really have much of the over the top nature that makes the actor so enjoyable to watch, something I hope he is going to bring to his up-coming role as King Louis in the up-coming Jungle Book adaptation, but as it stands, his role could have been played by anyone which is a shame because I am a Christopher Walken fan. Overall the cast is really a mixed bag, with some great performances, particularly Taron Egerton and some slightly weaker performances.
As for the aesthetics of the film, it’s actually very good. The period accuracy is done very well and the recreations of the Winter Olympics from that year are done very well. I would also say that the film has done a good job on not relying too much on stock footage, using it very liberally and the footage that they did use is used to good effect, though there is no actual stock footage of Eddie himself and all of his moments have been created specifically for the film, with the exception of one scene towards the end, of the closing ceremony.
The soundtrack is also some excellent music from the late 80’s, that I think will further get the nostalgic feel for people that will see this film, particularly songs from artists like ‘Frankie Goes To Hollywood’ and the use of Van Halen’s jump felt perfect , but it doesn’t really save the film overall.
I really want to love Eddie The Eagle, I really do, but at this point I can just say it’s an OK movie. It’s biggest strength is the central performance from Taron Egerton which excels the film,I just don’t think this is the film for me. I’m getting a bit bored of sports film cliches and I think this film has cemented that for me. It had some good humour in it, there is some decent acting and the period accuracy is pretty well done, but I know this film could have been so much better. This film could have been the ‘feel good British comedy of the year’, but as it stands, it’s just one to play at Christmas when there is not much else on. I think this film will appeal much more to people that experienced this event in the 80’s and want a bit more of an in depth analysis of what actually happened. I can only really recommend this film to those people, anyone born from 1990 onwards, probably should skip it. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate this movie, it’s just OK and I was highly entertained watching it, just not as much as I would have liked to have been.
“So what are your thoughts on Eddie The Eagle?”
Do you agree with me, or do you have a different opinion, please leave a comment, I welcome all opinions. Don’t forget you can follow me on my Twitter account to check out what extra films I am seeing outside of my reviews and get my thoughts on them as well as some of the extra bits and bobs I am doing. If you want to submit your own content or reviews, visit our how to submit section, we are very happy for others thoughts and ideas on our website.
Well that’s another week out of the way, so let’s move on. Next week I am reviewing Snow White and the Huntsmen prequel ‘Huntsmen A Winters War’, which will be posted on the website 15 April.
Thanks for reading my review, I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. My recommendations right now for films to see are The Witch, Deadpool and Zootopia, go and see them.
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