While most of the nation’s moviegoers are flocking to the widely panned and pagan “Gods of Egypt” or the practically pornographic “Deadpool,” a far better film than both is quietly flying under the radar.
“Eddie the Eagle,” based very loosely on the true story of the 1988 British Olympic ski jumper Michael “Eddie” Edwards, is an uproariously funny and endearing tale, complete with all the sympathetic tones that make cheering for the underdog in sports movies so much fun.
Depicted as a child suffering from a malady that kept him in knee braces, Edwards nonetheless had an almost obsessive dream: to be an Olympic athlete. But the severely farsighted, uncoordinated, nerdy little Eddie didn’t look like he had much of a chance.
“I was knocked off every team I was ever on,” Eddie explains at one point in the film, “before I had a chance to prove myself.”
And though a decent skier, Eddie couldn’t make it onto the British skiing team. With his father riding him hard to give up the dream and get a “real job,” it looked like his Olympic dreams were over.
Then, Eddie realized, England didn’t have any ski jumpers, so there wouldn’t be any competition for him to make the ski jumping team! If … he could only learn to jump.
What follows is a classic underdog tale, with a surprisingly good performance from Taron Egerton as Eddie and believable (if cliché) performances from the cast all the way around, including the redemptive role of Eddie’s down-and-out jumping coach, played by Hugh Jackman (of “Wolverine” fame).
True, there aren’t many surprises in the film, as it follows the typical sports movie story arc – with the determined underdog and the redemption of his coach of tarnished glory – but it does so with wit and charm and a lot of laughs.
The messages of the movie are also simple and straightforward, themes of determination and chasing your dream and “doing your best, even if it results in failure.”
The movie also breaks from the social norm a bit (in a good way) by unapologetically referring to a life lived in “drunkenness” and “fornication” as “being a total loser.” It then gives the man who led such a life the opportunity to turn things around.
“Eddie the Eagle” doesn’t necessarily promote Christian values, but it does tout positive ones. And despite some adult content played for humor (see below), it’s a sweet, funny, mildly inspiring, and all-around feel-good film.
No, “Eddie the Eagle” won’t win Oscar gold any more than the real Eddie won Olympic gold (though, to be honest, Egerton was very, very good in his role), but for the guy thinking about taking his gal to the theater on a Friday night for fun, “Eddie the Eagle” is an excellent choice. He’ll enjoy its mild, sports theme, and they’ll both enjoy the laughs and rooting for Eddie. In fact, it’s hard not to.
- “Eddie the Eagle,” rated PG-13, contains roughly 15 obscenities and profanities, all of the more minor variety (though to Brits, I understand, “bugger” is a stronger word).
- The movie does have sexual elements, though they are played for laughs, rather than erotic purposes. In one scene, Eddie stumbles into a sauna, where all the men are completely naked (with their knees all bent strategically). The scene may or may not have some homoerotic tones, but it’s a lighthearted humorous moment. In another humorous moment, an older woman comes on to Eddie strongly, making him nervous, but nothing comes of it. In still another scene, Eddie’s coach teaches him to think of ski jumping like having an orgasm, and the coach “fakes it” to illustrate. A nude female statue is seen in the background of another scene.
- The film’s only violence includes a single punch in a bar and several scenes of jumpers crashing on the landing. The lesser crashes are treated lightheartedly, but some of the more severe ones are clearly traumatic enough to illustrate the extreme danger of the sport at its highest levels.
- The movie’s only religious element are references to “God-given talent” and a cross necklace that is seen at different times.