Release: 8th August 2016
Format: BR / DVD / DGTL
A story following Michael Edwards (a.k.a Eddie), and his unflinching determination to become Great Britain’s first Olympic ski-jumper. Reluctantly aided by former ski-jumper Bronson Peary as his coach, Eddie is unwavering in his quest to reach the 1988 Calgary Winter Games.
Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards is the stuff of legend. Short, unpopular, eccentric; a real odd duck. Yet, somehow, he dominated the 1988 winter Olympics in a way that most athletes can only dream of. And he didn’t win a single event. It makes perfect sense, then, that Hollywood eventually turned said story into a movie. The end result is something so British, that it should probably come with a cup of tea and a digestive biscuit. Eddie The Eagle is a cinematic cup-a-soup; a warm hug of a movie.
There is a real sense from early on in its Forest Gump-esque opening that this biopic directed by Dexter Fletcher is going to play fast and loose with any real sense of authenticity or cynicism. Eddie The Eagle is a film that plays homage to a man’s ethos rather than making any bones about historical accuracy. For Edwards biographers or jaded sports fans this could be a major turn off, as for the most part, Eddie The Eagle wants to keep audience in that sweet spot between laughing vigorously and grinning like an idiot. This movie feels like Disneyland. It says, “Leave your troubles at the door”, and does everything in its power to charm and cheer audiences into a sense of tremendous wellbeing; and for the most part succeeds.
Production design plays a key part in Eddie The Eagle’s success. The 80’s nostalgia is like a 5 in comparison to say Stranger Things’ amped up 11 of neon synth landscape, which makes for a more subtle and low-key environment. Dexter Fletcher seems intent on making you feel young again in a very natural way, so that you can experience the world through Eddie’s eyes, with limitless enthusiasm. Even Eddie’s ‘unsupportive’ Dad is less villainous asshat, and more churlish ‘geezer’ with antiquated ambitions of putting bread on the table. Eddie bumbles through his own journey like a half remembered Peter Sellers character, benefitting from the good will or ignorant apathy of others; in what proves to be a minor niggle in the film’s complete abandon of realistic narrative. The obligatory montage aside (yes, classic montage music included), and what seems to be an extreme over simplification of the terrifying sport known as ski-jumping, all one needs to do to enjoy Eddie The Eagle is accept that it is designed to make life seem filled with possibility.
Taron Egerton is blissfully on point as Edwards. He may at times seem a little simple minded, but this is quickly reeled in as we realise it’s rather his outlook that is simple, not his ability to comprehend life’s complexity. Second to Mark Rylance’s BFG, Egerton’s Edwards is possibly the second most huggable performance of the year. Hugh Jackman’s Bronson Peary is a sympathetic drunk, who shares scenes with Egerton in a way that feel as though he is stepping back to enjoy the view rather than playing second fiddle, and the smattering of European bit parts create a fun if not borderline stereotypical world of oddballs and fitness freaks.
Rocky may have increased gym memberships, and The Hunger Games no doubt saw a boost in archery lessons, but it is highly unlikely that Eddie The Eagle will encourage a generation of ski-jumpers. No because the film isn’t an inspiring advertisement for the sport, but because even in a quirky, upbeat depiction, it still looks utterly mental and super dangerous.
Film Grade: B+
On the surface, the Blu-Ray looks a little thin on the ground, but in reality the Making Of comes in at over 40 minutes long. It is not super in-depth, but does take a loving look at most of the film’s inception and production. Edwards is present to give his seal of approval, which, for some reason, makes the film seem even more enjoyable.
The Deleted Scenes provide nothing of note.
Special Features Grade: C+
Let Eddie The Eagle into your heart, and you’ll be grateful you did. It is a wonderful, harmless, uplifting piece of British cinema.