Think of “Eddie the Eagle” as the 2016 version of the original “Rocky.” It’s loaded with a synthesized score; hit tunes of the time in which the story is set; and montages that show how the film’s subject got prepared for his big day. It’s also just as rousing and feel-good as the Stallone film, too. Releasing to theaters on Feb. 26, “Eddie the Eagle” is a pure treat, even if you know the outcome.
Eddie Edwards (Taron Egerton) was told his whole life that he would never become a professional skier, and that he could never make it into the Olympics. Literally, everyone told him that. From those who do it professionally to even his own father, who would prefer his son to work with him in his concrete business, Eddie is told he should probably try to do something else. But Eddie doesn’t want to do anything else; he wants to be in the Olympics. And he’ll do what it takes to get there.
That’s when Bronson Peary (Hugh Jackman) steps in to help Eddie out. At first, though, Bronson is somewhat skeptical of Eddie as well. A former Olympic skier himself, now an alcoholic wash-up, Bronson sees Eddie just like everyone else does – as in he thinks the guy doesn’t stand a chance. But, after seeing the passion in his heart, Bronson decides to take Eddie under his wing and help him reach his goal of making it to the 1988 Calgary Olympics.
“Eddie the Eagle” does lay the fact that everyone told him he wasn’t going to make it a little heavily early on. We’re shown that everywhere he goes, no matter where he is practicing, he’s told that he’ll never make it. It becomes a little overwhelming when the film drags that message on for longer than necessary. But once it makes it past all of that, we’re treated to a rather charming tale.
Egerton is truly charismatic in the role of Eddie. We see him stumble and fall, only to get back up and go at it again. He’s an odd duck, but he’s also determined to fulfill his destiny. And Egerton turns the character into one that will make you cheer and laugh as you see him on his journey.
Jackman is a blast to watch as the hard-nosed coach who will do what it takes to get Eddie to where he needs to go. It’s a real treat to watch these two interact with each other.
Like most biopics, the film has trouble avoiding the normal routes through which so many others have treaded. But there is so much more in “Eddie the Eagle” that keeps it going, and makes it a total crowd-pleaser. Through energetically-filled tryout sessions and competition sequences, director Dexter Fletcher crafts an enticing sports film that will leave the viewer with a big smile on their face. Some of the song choices may be a little too on the nose (Van Halen’s “Jump,” for example), but “Eddie the Eagle” is still a thrilling journey.