Eddie the Eagle Movie Review

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Eddie the Eagle (2016)

Eddie the Eagle Movie Review

With a nice touch of humor you cannot come away from this movie without feeling a sense of accomplishment regardless of the actual outcome. The movie inspires you to reflect on any challenge we may have faced on our own lives and inspires us to actually rethink how we may have handled it or behaved differently. Taron Edgerton played a very believable character giving the audience a real sense at who Eddie Edwards really was and how he lived his youth through perseverance and fortitude by simply not giving up. The film cleverly portrays this very quickly through a brief introduction into Eddies childhood. The story is written well and the story really gives us a sense of who Eddie is and the drive to fulfill a promise to himself. Hugh Jackman brings a humorous side to the film with just enough serious touch that you do not loose sight of the significant effort that was made by Eddie Edwards. I was glad to be invited to a early preview and hope that all who see this film enjoy it as much as I did.

Must See feel good Movie

First of all, I have to say that I'm generally not a fan of biopics, they just aren't the type of movie I seek out. I got tickets to the sneak preview and my wife really wanted to go. Anyway, that preamble out of the way, I really did enjoy the movie.

Eddie the Eagle is a story about an underdog in every sense of the word. One theme that is repeated throughout the movie, is the quote from Pierre de Coubertin (father of the modern Olympics), "The important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win, but to take part; the important thing in Life is not triumph, but the struggle; the essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well." The story follows Eddie from the time he's a little kid with dreams of going to the Olympics. It follows him through his many assorted set-backs, and all the people around him who saw only failure in his future. It also shows the moments when he got helping hands when he most needed it. This movie is about his struggle.

The casting in the movie was quite good. I remember Eddie the Eagle from TV when I was young, and Taron Egerton does an excellent job in the role of Eddie. Hugh Jackman puts in a good performance as the coach Bronson Peary, and manages not to overpower Eddie's character. But while Taron Egerton really assumes the part of Eddie, a lot of Hugh Jackman leaks into his role as coach Peary.

The roles of Eddie's parents are also well played, and the actress playing his mother, Jo Hartley, gives a particularly poignant portrayal. The father, played by Keith Allen (currently uncredited on IMDb) is a bit of a caricature, but well acted. Actually, a lot of the supporting cast of characters are caricatures, especially the other ski-jumpers/coaches and the British Olympians/Olympic Committee. But to an extent that serves to emphasize the struggle for Eddie. Also, for those intent on seeing this film for Christopher Walked, he has a very small role.

Eddie the Eagle Movie ReviewWhile, I have emphasized the struggle aspect of the story, there is a lot of comedy thrown into the mix as well. The tone is upbeat throughout, even when Eddie has setbacks. While some of the failures are played for laughs (mostly early in the film), it's mostly Eddie's perseverance that makes this film endearing. It also feels like we're laughing with Eddie rather than at him, since it seems Eddie's in on the joke.

The British love a plucky loser. "Eddie the Eagle" tells the astonishing but true story of everyman plasterer Eddie Edwards who qualified for, and then competed in, the Calgary Olympics in 1988 (probably most famous for those other plucky losers – the Jamaican bobsleigh team of Disney's "Cool Runnings" fame). I have absolutely no idea how the traditionally more success-driven and competitive American audience will see it, but the packed English showing I attended all clearly loved this film as a feel-good classic.

The film starts with Eddie's childhood, struggling out of leg braces to try to pursue his Olympic dream with no success whatsoever. (Excellent performances here by brothers Tom and Jack Costello who set-up the tone for the film). His battle is not just against his lack of skill: whilst his mother (Jo Hartley) is quietly supportive, his father Terry (Keith Allen) is – not unreasonably it must be said – hugely frustrated at his son's fanciful ideas, wanting him to follow in the family plastering tradition with the same zeal. (The gulf in ambition is vast – Eddie: "Didn't you have a dream when you were younger Dad?"; Terry: "Yes, plastering".)

Eventually Eddie finds a sport he is half decent in (by British standards!): downhill skiing, but is thwarted in following his Olympic dreams by smarmy and sneering Olympic selector Dustin Target, played by Tim McInnerny (from "Black Adder" and "Notting Hill"… someone who has rather cornered the market on 'smarmy and sneering'). It is then that he exploits ancient rules in the UK Olympic playbook to try to qualify in the discipline of ski-jumping: something no one has done since the 1920's. Linking up in Austria with an alcohol-infused coach and ex- jumper Bronson Peary (Hugh Jackman), Eddie faces the terrors of the 40m and then 70m jumps to try to learn the sport (16 years too late).

This film has been long in gestation, with both Steve Coogan and Rupert Grint originally earmarked for the role. But Matthew Vaughn's involvement in the current project probably contributed to Taron Egerton getting the job following their work together on last year's "Kingsman". And a great choice he is too. Almost unrecognizable from the sharp- suited Eggsy in "Kingsman" and gangster-sidekick Teddy in "Legend", Egerton switches effortlessly between clueless goofball and steely determined sportsman. 

The film's emotional heart though is with Hugh Jackman's side-story, battling with drink after throwing his own chance away with US-coach Warren Sharp (a nice cameo by Christopher Walken). Although going a little OTT at times (we see for example that he is no Meg Ryan!), Jackman provides a solid acting foundation that the rest of the cast can play off.

Rounding out the cast are solid performances from Jo Hartley ("This is England") as Eddie's Mum, Mark Benton ("Waterloo Road") as a BOA official, Rune Temte as a bear of a Norwegian coach and the ever-warming Jim Broadbent as a BBC commentator.

An 'attaboy' should also go to the special effects crew headed up by Marty McLaughlin for making believe a man can fly. Whilst – you understand – not in any way doubting Jackman's ability to risk his pretty face on a 90m jump, the nighttime sequence of him doing that jump is really nicely executed (with cinematography by George Richmond).

A quick browse at Wikipedia will make it clear that there has been a lot of license taken with this as a "true story", and to be fair the prefix "based on a.." was used! And the film is not without irritations: Terry's negativity to his son's actions is about 25% overplayed in Simon Kelton's story, and the coach/protégé sub-plot has been overused in the past. The soundtrack (music) by Matthew Margeson is also rather grating particularly early on in the film: it is presumably going for 'period' in its use of Hammond organ cheesiness, but that music was tiresome in the 80's too! Fortunately Margeson redeems himself with some kick-ass (no pun intended) classic 80's tracks neatly edited into the action.

These criticisms aside, I dare you to come out of this film without a silly grin on your face. I certainly did. Directed by Dexter Fletcher ("Sunshine on Leith") it's not likely to win any Oscars, but in setting out to deliver what it said on the can it succeeded in all respects.
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