Director: Dexter Fletcher
Writers: Sean Macaulay & Simon Kelton
Starring: Taron Egerton, Hugh Jackman, and Christopher Walken
In Theatres: February 26th, 2016
Review By Mike DeAngelo:
Brian and I had the pleasure of being in attendance for a free early screening of this one last night – Two weeks in and we’re already rolling like we do this kind of thing for a living. I was already excited to see it, but getting free tickets a week and 1/2 before release certainly didn’t hurt.
With that said, it was in an older theatre that neither of us were familiar with - it had some seriously strange vibes, rickety seats, and a distinct scent of urine. Perhaps that speaks to the quality of the film, in that I was still completely pulled into Eddie the Eagle from beginning to end.
One of the major obstacles of an inspirational underdog story in this day and age is to find some semblance of originality within the well-worn structure that’s been thrown at our heads again and again – see: Rocky, Cool Runnings, The Bad News Bears, Rudy, Cinderella Man, Miracle, Invincible, Revenge of the Nerds, Warrior, etc, etc.
Eddie the Eagle certainly does soar when it embraces what’s come before, but it works well because it leans on its decade and exceptionally talented leads – Taron Egerton and Hugh Jackman. I’ve said since my first post that Taron Egerton is a damn star. This movie seals it. While Hugh does an excellent job supporting, the movie rests mostly on Taron’s ability to get the audience to not only feel for the underdog, but be the underdog along with him. The kid has heart and soul coming out of his ears in this movie. No surprise if you’ve seen him in last year’s underrated, Kingsman: The Secret Service.
British character actor-turned-director, Dexter Fletcher, is also deserving of recognition. He’s finding his confidence after an already impressive debut in 2011’s Wild Bill. He knows enough to fully embrace the 80’s setting. I’m such a sucker for anything that feels like an 80’s movie and this one feels straight out of the 80’s for most of its briskly-paced 105 minute runtime. There’s something about 80’s cinema that just feels like a warm blanket to me – I don’t know what it is, but it even makes the disgusting fashion and ignorance of the era sort of charming. Maybe that’s just my nostalgia for the movies I grew up with talking. Regardless, it’s the perfect decade for an underdog Olympic skiing movie.
The movie, like any good underdog story, also expertly ratchets up the tension and obstacles for Eddie to overcome throughout the movie. Each obstacle is bigger than the last, from finding his footing in the beginning to a massively emotional finale.
I’m trying to be as spoiler-free as possible, but let’s face it, we all know where it’s going – and with Eddie the Eagle, you really don’t care. I’ll have to see it again to confirm, but it may be my favorite underdog sports movie that I’ve ever seen. It’s got everything that my other favorites (Cinderella Man, Warrior, and Rocky) have, but there’s an undeniable sweetness & heart to the character that pushes over the top. It’s a salute to the phrase “you can do whatever you set your mind to” – and, in this age of cynicism and eye rolling, that’s a welcome change of pace.
OVERALL RATING: 9/10 GOLD MEDALS