Who doesn’t love a good underdog story? Incredible feats of daring have captured our imagination countless times before, but few capture the same stirring heart and soul as Eddie the Eagle.
⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ½
For audiences of a certain age, Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards is a British sporting icon who defines the term underdog. An unfancied and amateur downhill skier from a lower-class background in England, Eddie’s uplifting life story of unquenchable ambition in the face of adversity transitions to film with ease, with the breakout star of Kingsman: The Secret Service, Taron Egerton, stepping into the titular role.
Despite a childhood filled with peers and paternal figures putting him down, Eddie has his heart set on becoming an Olympian. When happenstance points him to towards ski jumping, Eddie flies the coop and journeys to the snowy Alpine settings of Germany and Switzerland to pursue his newly found dream. It’s here that he meets Bronson Peary (Hugh Jackman), a disgraced former athlete who coaches him through the qualifiers, despite Eddie’s inexperience raising eyebrows among his snide European competitors.
Egerton is almost unrecognisable as Eddie, a dorky idiot with a mile-wide grin. His natural charisma exudes through every pore and, when paired with Jackman’s liquor-stained grouch, the film soars like a majestic eagle. Their chemistry gives this film life; without their bubbling personas and the quick-witted screenplay under their feet feeding them killer dialogue, this rather conventional hero to zero tale would rapidly sink into the snow.
Thankfully, unlike Eddie’s harebrained antics on the slopes, the film, its cast and the script all work in tandem with insatiable confidence and infectious wit. Jackman’s character, along with almost everyone else in the cast, is easily 10x funnier than any other comedy in the past year – and I’m talking about genuine, clutch-your-side laughs that are intelligent enough for adults, but not so crude that they shut out the family audience. Eddie the Eagle is the kind of film the whole family can enjoy, even your Nanna.
This broad appeal stems from its easy-to-understand, paint-by-numbers plot. The narrative draws heavily from a whole range of other popular sporting fables, from classics like Rocky and The Karate Kid to sillier fare like Cool Runnings. There are obvious parallels that can be drawn to other British comedies like Billy Elliot, Starter For Ten or Bend It Like Beckham. Tonally, the film owes a lot these cherished precursors.
Is Eddie the Eagle clichéd? Certainly. Is it predictable? Definitely. But is it unashamedly fun, thrilling and uplifting all the same? Absolutely. When an audience cheers and claps after the credits roll, you know that more than just a single chord has been struck – and despite its snowy setting, Eddie the Eagle delivers this warm sense of satisfaction in spades.
Eddie the Eagle is available in Australian cinemas from April 21
Image courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox