May Eddie the Eagle fly at the box office
One thing that really grinds my gears is when people my age say to justify a gap in their knowledge is, ‘Huh! Well that’s from before my time I guess.’ That is then proceeded with a slightly awkward shoulder shrug. For someone who often reckons that music peaked around 1985 I think it’s often used as a silly filler line. However, in a rather hypocritical move, I am going to say that the rise and soar then laughing stock of British skier Eddie “the Eagle” Edwards is ‘from before my time I guess.’ Occasionally he would pop up on various panel shows and people would poke fun, and I’d be vaguely confused and envious that a man with such an awesome nickname was being used for laughs (what can I say, I was a thoughtful child…) Anyway, I’ll save the rest of that for my therapist.
My slightly convoluted point here is that I had no idea what the man had done to achieve such levels of infamy and mockery. Then, when I heard of the film, I thought ‘Yeah…good luck with that one!’ Time passed by and the trailer was released which made me realise that the film was my kind of film. Then I got invited by Den of Geek to attend a preview screening and Q&A with the director, Dexter Fletcher, at The Courthouse Hotel (a 5* hotel with unbelievably fancy toilets) and that takes us right up to now. Three days on from seeing the film and it still makes me smile. It’s a truly wonderful movie and I beg you to go and see it. Now (and if you’re still with me after that preamble I declare) to you my utter love and gratitude for sticking with me) let me tell you why it’s so damn good.
Eddie Edwards (Taron Egerton) has wanted to be an Olympian for as long as he can remember. He was always the last to get picked for teams, spent a year in hospital due to the poor state of his knees and never quite seemed good enough for anything. He almost gave in and followed in his dad’s (Keith Allen) footsteps of becoming a plasterer until he found skiing, a hobby for which he had his mother’s (Jo Hartley) total support. He even made it to try-outs for the Olympic team before being told by the panel (lead by Mark Benton and Tim McInnerny) that he wasn’t Olympic material. That’s when Eddie decided that not only would he try on his own to make Team GB for the 1988 Winter Olympics, he’d teach himself how to Ski Jump by decamping to a training camp in Germany. Either being ignorant or in denial about the fact that most Ski Jumpers start aged 5/6 (Eddie being 22) he proceeds to train solo with great resilience both from injury and belittlement from the experienced jumpers. That’s when alcoholic ex-ski jumper Bronson Perry (Hugh Jackman) steps in to help Eddie from death by training. A friendship/brotherhood quickly forms between the pair, under the shadow of Perry’s ex-mentor Warren Sharp (Christopher Walken). Will Eddie become skilled enough to join Team GB or will his dreams die again once more?
This film is totally and utterly brilliant; an utter joy to watch. Though it’s not a state I often occupy, I felt so patriotic after seeing this movie. Partly because it’s a British movie, and it’s the kind of movie we do so, but mainly because Eddie’s journey and how it’s told is so unique to British cinema. Yes, other countries do underdog movies, but so few do them in this way. Eddie’s journey is so lacking in glory, so real (grey-area term as some of the movie is fictionalised) that he reflects each and every one of us. It’s an important reminder not to give up on your dreams, and the power of self-belief. It’s also bloody hilarious, that blend of slapstick and deadpan and sarcasm that makes British cinema so comparatively unique. I giggled, I laughed and I even snort-laughed. It was glorious.
Taron Egerton is already on the up-and-coming, cusp-of-greatness list of actors and this film cements it. Firstly, a post-viewing google showed how similar Egerton looks to 1988-era Eddie along with how scarily accurate the expressions and mannerisms are. He’s also such a great actor to watch, his handling of the pathos and comedy of the character is extraordinary. You do well and truly root for Eddie. Hugh Jackman is great in his mentor role, forming a great rapport with Edgerton. Allen and Hartley are little seen but add much to the impact of the film. Then, with a brief cameo, Christopher Walken sasses the hell out of two lines of dialogue.
There’s also a wonderful 80s soundtrack, as uplifting and smile-inducing as the film itself, brilliant use of sets on such a small budget and some hilarious character actors in supporting roles. Eddie the Eagle is being released into the wild on March 28th, the same weekend as Batman Vs Superman. So why not give some home-grown talent some love and go see it. I promise you it’s worth the money.
We may only be a quarter of the way into the year, but this may just be THE feel-good movie of the year. Go see it.