Reminiscent of the foreigner underdog Olympic story from Cool Runnings, the dramatized real-life story of Eddie the Eagle is a ridiculously formulaic yet hopelessfully heartwarming sports biopic in the mould of Disney classics from the 1990s. From actor turned director Dexter Fletcher and producer Matthew Vaughn, the loose adaptation of unlikely British Olympian ski jumper Michael "Eddie" Edwards is beyond predictable but it never really matters as the acting and direction make the film entirely endearing.
Vaughn reunites with his Kingsman lead Taron Egerton who commits to the bumbling physicality of Edwards and his good natured, overly earnest sense of humour and awareness. Hugh Jackman shows up in a nice supporting turn as Eddie's washed up, alcoholic (but completely fictionalized) coach and former ski jumping champion. Christopher Walken has a strange but small turn as Jackman's former mentor and a legendary ski jumping coach whose training methods permeate over the whole film.
Screenwriters Sean Macaulay and Simon Kelton pepper Eddie the Eagle with all the familiar beats, training montages, setbacks, and stereotypical villains as Eddie makes his improbable journey to the 1998 Winter Olympics in Calgary. Egerton gives Eddie a welcome sense of wonder and childlike innocence that makes the film so enjoyable.
Fletcher shows a confident hand as he treats the well-worn material with enough grace and warmth to make the whole endeavour worth following. Every story beat and scene works towards the film's virtue of triumph and achievement of sport. Eddie the Eagle is remarkable in making such deeply mined material still so joyous by hiring overly talented actors to take the material seriously but execute it with such a sense of pleasure.
Eddie the Eagle is endearingly light and fluffy but undeniably heartwarming and watchable. It's aided by an unsurprising but effective selection of period pop songs and directed with an understated style by Fletcher. It's by no means anything new or bold but is so impossibly feel good. It has no pretensions about what it is as it aims to inspire, uplift, and largely succeeds.
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