Eddie the Eagle

Do you remember the 1988 Winter Olympics? I didn't, but now I have something to remember. I love underdog stories and "Eddie the Eagle" soars. In fact, as we exited the theater, I realized that this was the most enthusiastic screening audience I have seen in a long time!

Director Dexter Fletcher ("Sunshine on Leith") working from a PG-13 screenplay by Sean Macaulay and Simon Kelton, gives us the (sorta) true story of an unlikely wannabe Olympic contender who just wouldn't give up. (You'll smile when you learn how he picked ski jumping for his sport.) This script delivers many laughs, a lot of tension and above all, a singular hero to root for.

We watch:
  • Taron Egerton ("Kingsman: The Secret Service") This handsome young actor is unrecognizable as Eddie Edwards, the tenacious underdog: e.g., the opening scenes show us a plucky youngster in a leg brace (weak knees) practicing various skills with only one goal in mind: The Olympics. He doesn't care which sport, just THE OLYMPICS. His father (Keith Allen) is soon out of patience, but his sweet mother (Jo Hartley) remains supportive.
  • Hugh Jackman ("Chappie") Former ski-jumping champion Bronson Peary has no intention of being Eddie's coach; this American failure now runs a Zamboni-type machine to keep the ski-jump area smooth. His specialty has become drinking and smoking....BUT he can see, despite horrific risks, that goofy kid just won't quit. He doesn't teach Eddie how to jump, just how to land. Jackman in jeans has never been more appealing; and wait til you see how Bo Derek fits into their training program.
  • Christopher Walken ("Jersey Boys") Former Olympic coach Warren Sharp did NOT expect to see his book in that dressing room. He insists that talent is a minor part of a champion's equation: determination and persistence are what count the most.
Of course we have the usual assortment of egotistical athletes, bullies, sportscasters and nay-sayers, but we also see the enthusiastic sports lovers who attend Olympic events, open to new experiences and ready to embrace a new hero.

You (and they) will soon accept an odd-ball young man who has finagled a long-shot opportunity from a reluctant British Olympic Committee through sheer determination and tenacity. Later, of course, we hope to see their outspoken spokesman humbled.

The pacing of this movie is brilliant: we suffer with our courageous hero as he flails from one painful failure to another, but we become as invested as he is: we want him to succeed. We laugh at his training schemes and hold our breath right on cue. Our sophisticated screening audience even cheered a couple of times. We knew we had been manipulated and didn't mind a bit.

You won't mind either. It's a heartwarming feel-good movie.
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