We all have a dream
or have had a dream at some point, at least. You may not have achieved your dream (yet), but I'm sure you remember what it is, even if you're not currently pursuing it. You may have been stopped or been hindered from seeing your dream come true because people told you it wasn't realistic or refused to support you when you needed them to (or both). Or maybe you chose to give up on that dream because you decided yourself that it wasn't practical or because you came to believe that you were too old, too busy, too poor, too
"whatever" to dream anymore. If any of this sounds familiar, then "Eddie the Eagle" (PG-13, 1:45) just might be your kind of movie. (And if ALL of this sounds familiar, you need to drop everything and go see this movie immediately – before it's too late!) The movie poster says "Inspired by a Dream Come True". That's appropriate (even if it's also a bit of a spoiler). In other words, this film is indeed inspired by a true story, but it's a highly fictionalized account of what really happened. There really is an Eddie Edwards who was nicknamed "The Eagle" and became Britain's only ski jumper in order to realize his childhood dreams of Olympic glory at the 1988 winter games in Calgary. Except for a few more details, that's about where the similarities between the film and reality end. Personally, I think the omitted details of Edwards' story are even more interesting than what appears on screen, but maybe they were left out to simplify the movie or make it even more of a crowd-pleaser. If that was the goal, mission accomplished! The filmmakers did, however, cast an actor who could act and be made to look like the real Edwards, right down to his gestures. It is impressive.
Since childhood, Eddie Edwards (Taron Egerton) had Olympic dreams, even though he was pudgy, had no discernible athletic talent and even wore a knee brace for years. But he kept his dream alive. Eddie tried his hand at a number of different Olympic events, unable to find the right one for him. But he kept trying. Many different people, including Eddie's own father, criticized and even mocked his dreams. But he just ignored them. Eddie decided on ski jumping even though he didn't know anything about it and was told repeatedly that, even in his early 20s, he was way too old to learn it and get good at it. But he still gave it his best shot. There were even multiple predictions of Eddie's failure, injury or even death if he pushed forward. But he refused to let fear or uncertainty stop him. At one point, Eddie proclaims, "I taking jumping very seriously. I love it. Nearly as much as I love proving people wrong." That he does.
Eddie didn't even have a coach. That is, until he suddenly left the home of his frustrated father and supportive mother (Jo Hartley), traveled to a ski jumping facility in Germany and met one of the employees, Bronson Peary (Hugh Jackman). Bronson is a former Olympic ski jumper who let his bad attitude derail his jumping career. He squandered his potential, ending up working as a maintenance man and drowning his sorrows in alcohol. As Eddie does small jumps and tries to learn how to jump by trial and error, Bronson repeatedly tells him to quit. Eventually, Bronson agrees to teach Eddie a few things, if for no other reason, to keep Eddie from killing himself as he trains. And if Eddie manages to overcome his alcoholic coach's gruffness – and his own lack of experience (talent) as a jumper, he still must get past the British Olympic Committee whose leader (Tim McInnerny) is intent on stopping Eddie.
"Eddie the Eagle" soars! Egerton is powerful, fun and funny in what is best described as a transformative performance, to be appreciated even more by those who saw him as a street-punk-turned-suave-secret-agent in 2015's "Kingman: The Secret Service". 2016 just serves to confirm Egerton as one of the finest young acting talents working today. Here, he makes a wonderful and endearing underdog. This film's story arc recalls another inspiring (basically) true sports story – 1993's "Rudy". Like many such movies, "Eddie" is guilty of being formulaic (right down to Jackman's charming, but now familiar portrayal of an underdog's main supporter) and I wish this film had stuck a little closer to the actual story, but these issues do little to harm the movie's emotional power and the sheer enjoyment of being in the audience.
Regardless of how successful Eddie is (or isn't) in the end, you'll want to stand up and shout, "Do you believe in miracles? YES!!" Hmmm. Sorry. Wrong Winter Olympics movie, but you get the point. "Eddie the Eagle" IS the feel-good movie of the year! If you have (or ever had) a dream, you're likely to enjoy this film
and it may even inspire you to dream about things you never thought possible. Isn't all that what movies are for? Everyone reading this review is witnessing the beginning of me realizing my dreams. This film reminded me of the rewards of determination and the joys of overcoming obstacles and accomplishing goals. I believe it will do the same for you – and entertain you in the process. "A-"