Eddie the Eagle

 

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A loose biography of the accident-prone Olympian ski-jumper Eddie ‘the Eagle’ Edwards is a tad clichéd but very funny.
 

Eddie the Eagle II

 

It would be churlish to be overly critical of a feel-good British movie that whole-heartedly embraces the quality of tenacity. And the story of Eddie Edwards is not just one of mindless chutzpah, but of believing in oneself and of jumping headlong into one’s dreams in spite of life’s hurdles. Edwards – or ‘Eddie the Eagle’ as he became known – literally jumped headlong into the record books when he decided to take up ski-jumping. As a youngster, the Cheltenham-born boy was determined to become an Olympian, even though his frequent attempts at all sorts of sporting activities landed him on his face. Even when he failed to be a halfway decent downhill skier, he struggled on to become Britain’s only Olympian ski-jumper…

 

Of course, the greater the odds, the more thrilling the story. And Eddie seemed to encounter more drawbacks than most. In Dexter Fletcher’s loose biography, Eddie is told by the British authorities that he will never be “Olympic material” and is ridiculed by the Norwegians. In fact, everybody laughs at him, including his own father (Keith Allen), as well as Bronson Peary (Hugh Jackman), a former skiing champion who has resorted to the bottle. Eventually, however, the latter agrees to help coach Eddie, if only to prevent him from breaking his neck.

 

Here, Fletcher – who directed the fresh, charming and gripping Wild Bill (partly set around the construction of London’s Olympic Stadium) – draws on all the clichés of the genre. Thus, the British sporting officials are portrayed as snooty caricatures, while the music draws heavily on the chords of Vangelis, who won an Oscar for the Olympic-themed Chariots of Fire. Taron Egerton himself, who played the cocky wannabe spy ‘Eggsy’ in Kingsman: The Secret Service, provides a broad interpretation of the goofy Eddie, albeit to winning effect.

 

But despite this reliance on the obvious and the predictable, the film is stuffed with genuinely funny moments. And as a slice of family entertainment, it’s refreshing to encounter something so completely free of ribaldry, in spite of an orgiastic reference to Bo Derek (complete with a sampling of Ravel’s Bolero). This might not have the emotional punch of David Frankel’s Paul Potts story One Chance, but it’s told with the same verve as that displayed by Eddie Edwards on the slopes. And that’s no bad thing.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Cast: Taron Egerton, Hugh Jackman, Tim McInnerny, Mark Benton, Keith Allen, Jo Hartley, Edvin Endre, Iris Berben, Rune Temte, Jack Costello, Tom Costello Jr, Jim Broadbent, Christopher Walken.

 

Dir Dexter Fletcher, Pro Matthew Vaughn, Adam Bohling, David Reid, Rupert Maconick and Valerie Van Galder, Screenplay Sean Macaulay and Simon Kelton, Ph George Richmond, Pro Des Mike Gunn, Ed Martin Walsh, Music Matthew Margeson, Costumes Annie Hardinge.

                                                      

Marv Films/Saville Productions/Studio Babelsberg/TSG Entertainment-Lionsgate. 

105 mins. UK/USA/Germany. 2016. Rel: 28 March 2016. Cert. PG.