Inspired by true events, this is the inspirational, if not-entirely-accurate story of how Michael “Eddie” Edwards (Taron Egerton) becomes a world-record holding British ski jumper at the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics. Burdened as a child by a knee brace, enthusiastic, bespectacled Eddie displays an alarming lack of athletic prowess, yet he’s determined to compete in the Olympics. After he realizes he’s woefully incompetent at every track-and-field event he attempts, he learns to ski. Read on…
Brusquely dismissed from Great Britain’s downhill team, Eddie decides to try ski-jumping instead. A gullible novice, he journeys to Garmisch, Germany, where he’s ridiculed by Finnish and Norwegian jumpers who have been training since they were six years old.
But then Eddie meets Bronson Peary (Hugh Jackman), a drunken, depressed, disillusioned one-time U.S. ski-jumping star, now working as a snow-plow driver. Peary astutely perceives Eddie’s innate bravery and tenacity so, albeit reluctantly, he decides to coach him, if only to prevent Eddie from recklessly killing himself.
In Pierre de Coubertin’s true Olympic tradition, Eddie doesn’t care about winning; he just wants to participate and do his best.
Scripted in the classic underdog formula by Sean Macaulay and Simon Kelton, it’s heavy-handedly directed by Dexter Fletcher, who over-emphasizes Taron Egerton’s (“Kingsman: The Secret Service,” “Legend”) milk-gulping dorkiness, emphasizing his quirky arm-flapping after a successful landing.
Eddie’s predictably supportive mum (Jo Hartley) and disapproving, working-class plasterer dad (Keith Allen) are superficially sketched, although Jim Broadbent nails his role as a patrician British broadcaster.
FYI: The characters played by Hugh Jackman and Christopher Walken are entirely fictional; the real Eddie Edwards trained with coaches in Lake Placid, New York.
The dramatic Alpine vistas are superbly photographed by George Richmond, and the concept evokes memories of “Cool Runnings” (1993), another poignant, archetypal, misfit tale that was based on the Jamaican bobsled team at the same 1988 Winter Games in Calgary.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Eddie the Eagle” soars in with a sentimental 7, an uplifting, feel-good film.