An inspiring tale of triumph over adversity is how you could describe Dexter Fletcher's uplifting, heart-warming film about one of Britain's most iconic sporting figures, as famous for losing as he was for winning, namely Eddie the Eagle (released nationwide on April 1).
Olympic obsessive Eddie Edwards is a likeable geeky Gloucestershire boy who takes a job as a plasterer with his dad while refusing to give up on his sporting ambitions. Eventually, deciding that ski jumping is his best shot, he finds a loophole that could actually allow him to compete- but he has to learn how to jump first. The intrepid Eddie packs his skis into his dad's van and heads off to the continent where the snowy slopes await, as well as Bronson Peary, a smooth manager whose past as a jumper means that's just what Eddie needs – if only Eddie can persuade Peary to train him. As Peary learns it's not easy saying no to Eddie which is all part of his charm, and the wide-eyed innocent and drinking ladies' man develop an endearing bond as they train and fight to have Eddie accepted for the Olympics.
This Billy Elliot-style comedy drama, full of character-driven wit, which, admittedly, at times is strained – and ordinary people become motivational figures through sheer force of will. There's something quintessentially British about both its underdog nature and its resilient spirit. One of the most poignant moments in the film comes when Eddie, having beaten his previous record, appears before the Olympics board who say his jumping performance is not good enough to qualify and snootily turn him down.
Taran Egerton, complete with ginger mop, thick glasses and cheesy, chinny grin, perfectly embodies the spirit of the stubborn amateur skier Michael (Eddie the Eagle) Edwards who was dearly loved for his tireless enthusiasm, self-belief and determination and whose motto was "I love proving people wrong." Hugh Jackman is most convincing as his reluctant coach Peary, so too Keith Allen as his dad, whose advice to abandon his sporting dreams and return to work as a plasterer mercifully fall on deaf ears. Jo Hartley as Eddie's patient, supportive mother also impresses. There is also a welcome cameo by Christopher Walken as a ski jumping pro and author of a revered book on the subject.
This movie is beautifully shot in the actual locations where the events occurred and the ski jumping scenes quite breathtaking to behold – and the use of archive footage gives it an almost documentary style realism, while the synth-riffing 80s soundtrack further immerses us into the atmosphere of the period.
In short then, a charming, fun-filled, feel-good movie!
Eddie the Eagle
In cinemas nationwide from Friday 1 April 2016Last modified: March 24, 2016