Entertainment

Olympic skier will jump right into your heart

Taron Egerton, left, and Hugh Jackman celebrate in a scene from “Eddie the Eagle.”(Larry Horricks/20th Century Fox via AP)
Taron Egerton, left, and Hugh Jackman celebrate in a scene from “Eddie the Eagle.”(Larry Horricks/20th Century Fox via AP) 20th Century Fox

What It’s About

“Eddie the Eagle” is everything you want in a sports underdog movie — a crowd-pleasing feel-good time inspired by an interesting oddball’s heart-warming tale.

Since youth, Michael “Eddie” Edwards had an impossible dream. Instead of tilting at windmills, however, he took on qualifying for the British Olympic team as a ski jumper. Against all odds, he became a memorable competitor and improbable hero at the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics.

Sure, he came in dead last in the 70m and 90m jumps, but as the first British ski jumper he made the record books. His unbridled enthusiasm and goofy antics won over crowds and the media. He, along with the Jamaican bobsled team, became the Calgary Games’ unlikely celebrities.

The movie is “based on a true story,” but in reality, is mostly fiction. Screenwriters chose to either ignore or embellish the truth, including making up his coach.

Nevertheless, the film makes you laugh, tear up and cheer. Poetic license is normal in biopics, but the real story is compelling enough on its own without taking so many liberties.

Performances

The winning cast is the main reason the movie is one big smile. Taron Egerton, one of last year’s breakout stars as Eggsy in “Kingsman: The Secret Service,” is endearing as the earnest Eddie. He plays him as a socially awkward innocent, an obsessive dreamer who believes in himself.

Hugh Jackman plays Eddie’s fictional alcoholic ex-ski jumper coach, Bronson Peary. He first appears, down and out, plowing snow in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, where Eddie goes to train after the snobby British Olympic committee blocks his every attempt to make the team. When he takes on the challenge of working with Eddie, a bond is forged. Cue the training montage to Hall and Oates.

Jo Hartley has a lovely turn as Eddie’s supportive mother, while Christopher Walken shows up briefly as an Olympic coaching legend, Warren Sharpe.

What Works

Matthew Margeson’s synthesizer score reminds one of 1980s TV theme songs, a pleasant pop soundtrack that sets a cheerful tone — and, of course, includes Van Halen’s “Jump.”

What Doesn’t Work

Of course the movie is constructed to manipulate our every emotion. It’s that run-of-the-mill sports underdog formula. It does not pretend to be anything else.

But I just went with the flow. If you enjoy the Olympics’ up close and personal back stories of competitors, this is your movie.

What’s not to love about Eddie the Eagle’s unorthodox road to the Olympics?

‘Eddie the Eagle’

  • Director: Dexter Fletcher
  • Cast: Taron Egerton, Hugh Jackman, Jim Broadbent, Christopher Walken and Jo Hartley
  • Rated PG-13 (suggestive material, partial nudity and smoking)
  • 105 minutes
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