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Eddie the Eagle is a predictable but fun romp

By Jarrett Edmund, February 23 2016 —

Something special took place at the 1988 Winter Olympic Games in Calgary — it wasn’t the improbable run of the Jamaican Bobsled Team, nor was it the heroic failure of an inexperienced British ski jumper. The true heroes of the event are the big-budget Hollywood dramatizations that followed — first Cool Runnings, now Eddie the Eagle.

Local enthusiasts eager to catch a glimpse of retro Calgary will be sorely disappointed. Like Cool Runnings before it, Eddie the Eagle is almost entirely fiction. The Bavarian countryside where the film was shot is sadly much more beautiful than our aged Olympic facilities. But with a few archival footage scenes, the illusion is complete.

Eddie the Eagle follows a bespectacled Eddie Edwards, played by Taron Egerton, and his hopeless quest to become an Olympic athlete. Edwards, a whimsical idiot and devoted milk drinker, appears doomed from childhood. Longsighted with shoddy knees, he is consistently informed by both his blue-collar father and everybody else that he will never fulfill his dreams. But like all good underdog sports movies, Eddie the Eagle is only a few montages, a supportive mother and a washed-up coach away from achieving the impossible. The inspirational ‘80s music arrives right on cue.

The film unfolds in a predictable fashion. Edwards must conquer a series of obstacles, where — much to the disdain of those around him — he proves to be a lovable success. But what Eddie the Eagle lacks in surprises, it makes up for in performance. Egerton’s impeccable comedic timing and delightful foolhardiness earn plenty of laughs throughout. And Hugh Jackman, clad in Canadian tuxedos, plays the role of Edwards’ washed-up mentor, a cigarette-smoking, whiskey-slugging former ski-jumper. Immune to both the freezing cold and gentle reminders of his age, the completely fictitious role of Bronson Peary is the perfect fit for Jackman. Banter between the two actors forms the comedic lift of the film as it soars towards the inevitable. There’s never any doubt that Edwards will succeed, but the predictability of the story doesn’t subtract from the fact that Eddie the Eagle is enjoyable from start to finish.

Though pleasant, Eddie the Eagle doesn’t deserve any medals of its own. Poor secondary character development and plot holes occasionally mire the experience. Relationships between the characters seem inconsequential. And although Eddie the Eagle may set the record for the longest cinematic wait to hear Van Halen’s “Jump,” the joy of the film lies in the hang-time after takeoff. Lifted by Egerton’s tremendous acting and comedic chops, Eddie the Eagle is the perfect reminder that a little determination can go a long way.

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