By Jack Dignan
You've heard the term 'underdog story' before, haven't you? You all know what it means. It's the story of someone who, against all odds, rises up to outshine their potential. They're the little people nobody thinks anything of, or the people who clearly can't achieve what they want to achieve, yet they ride up and give it a go. Eddie the Eagle, by all definitions, is an underdog story, and it's about the most underdog story ever told. There's a saying that goes everyone loves a good underdog story, and since that saying is more than likely true, it's almost guaranteed that you're going to love Eddie the Eagle.... if you're in one of the two countries on planet earth that hasn't gotten this movie yet.
Eddie the Eagle is the true story of Eddie Edwards (Taron Egerton), a kind hearted and sweet young man who, for his entire life, has just wanted to be an olympian, and has tried just about every single sport there is. After being kicked off of his ski team and told he will never be able to make it into the olympics, Eddie takes up ski jumping, coached by former olympian Bronson Peary (Hugh Jackman). The two go forth to try and help Eddie achieve his dreams, and it makes for what is one of the most inspiring films in recent memory.
I am not an athlete, there's no hiding that, nor am I particularly fond of watching sports. Sports movies, when done right, can be highly entertaining, as sports movies are never about the activities they're doing. It's not about the sport. It's about the people. With Eddie the Eagle, the characters are emotionally investing, fleshed out and extremely likeable. Egerton's Eddie is the one of the most kindhearted and good willed characters of all time, and I couldn't help but smile as he chased his dreams, constantly supported by his adoring mother, played by Jo Hartley, who helped give this movie an even bigger emotional push.
The performances are all round terrific, every actor giving it the best they could possibly do and nailing their character. Each character is distinctly different in personality, but they all come together to form an insanely likeable movie. We last saw Taron Egerton in last year's Kingsman: The Secret Service and the Tom Hardy led gangster movie, Legend, and while Eddie the Eagle sees him playing a vastly different role, he gives a performance that's just as good, if not better than his last ones. The more I see of this guy, the more I like him.
While Dexter Fletcher directs this film with a lot of energy, the story does feel rather familiar. Well, not the story, per say, but there's plenty of familiar beats. It's the classic underdog formula, but it's undeniably done well, resulting in a massive smile to be planted on my face from start to finish, so much so that I found myself on the brink of tears.... from happiness. This film is an utter delight, appealing to all ages and delivering a fun time at the movies.
To sum up, Eddie the Eagle hits some familiar biopic beats, but as the saying goes, everyone loves an underdog story, so yes, this film is rather loveable. Funny, exciting, well acted and uplifting, it just works. I loved it.