Thursday, November 23, 2017

Tonight's Movie: Eddie the Eagle (2016)

Back in February of 1988 I was expecting our first child. I was terribly ill and unable to work for quite a while as a result, and the Calgary Winter Olympics provided a helpful distraction during that challenging time. (Side note, my baby recently turned 29 and was more than worth it!)

One of the highlights of the Winter Olympics that year was the unorthodox British ski jumper Eddie Edwards, who became known as "Eddie the Eagle." He was the first ski jumper to represent Great Britain since the '20s, and while he didn't do well (to say the least), he did set a British record. His enthusiasm and determination endeared him to viewers. It was a ROCKY-style story where "winning" came by simply landing and staying upright!

EDDIE THE EAGLE tells this story, with Taron Egerton as Edwards. Fascinated with the Olympics since childhood, he is determined to participate in the Winter Olympics and eventually connects with a former U.S. ski jumper, Bronson Peary (Hugh Jackman), who becomes his coach.

It's an interesting, fairly straightforward rendition of the tale, although I did find it of note that neither of the lead characters is especially likeable, particularly in the early going. As played by Egerton, Eddie is so oblivious to social norms and cues that I started to wonder if he had something like Asperger's syndrome.

As for Peary, he had left the U.S. team in disgrace and become an alcoholic. At least as the movie tells it, working with Eddie had a positive effect on Peary, and the characters do become more sympathetic as the movie reaches the Olympic games sequences.

Despite my reservations about the lead characters, it's an engrossing movie which fans of inspirational sports films will likely enjoy, as I did. It was perfect upbeat viewing for our Thanksgiving.

Christopher Walken is excellent in a tiny yet memorable role as former U.S. coach Warren Sharp. Walken's charisma enables his character to have an impact despite limited screen time.

Tim McInnerny seemed overly cartoonish as a British Olympic official unenthused at having an upstart like Eddie on the team, though my reading indicates it's true some were unhappy he made the team; in fact, entrance rules were changed going forward to make it more difficult for someone who wasn't part of the athletic "establishment" to make the team.

Jo Hartley and Keith Allen play Eddie's parents, who are by turns supportive and exasperated with their son's single-minded ambition.

EDDIE THE EAGLE runs 106 minutes. It was directed by Dexter Fletcher and attractively filmed by George Richmond. The ski jump scenes were extremely well done, so that the viewer wasn't constantly distracted wondering about stunt skiers or computerized effects.

Parental Advisory: This film is rated PG-13 for swearing, partial nudity (nothing is really shown that I noticed), and suggestive material; the latter was a completely unnecessary training sequence scene which might go over small children's heads while embarrassing older viewers. On the plus side, the film is a "never quit" story of determination and redemption despite long odds.

EDDIE THE EAGLE is available on DVD or Blu-ray, and it can be rented for streaming. We watched it via Cinemax On Demand streaming since it's included in our cable package at no extra cost.


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