|UK Release Date||1st April 2016|
|Starring||Taron Egerton, Huge Action|
|Runtime||1hr 46 minutes|
|Reviewed||1st April 2016|
If you are of a certain age as we here at BS Towers then you will have been alive and possibly old enough to even remember the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics. The Winter Olympics, indeed even the main Olympics, back in those days was seen as a somewhat exotic mythical outing. Mainly because if one thing was clear in 1988, Britain was pretty shit at the Olympics, or more accurately, Britain were generally crap at funding or taking sport seriously. To explain, in 1988 Britain was 24th on the medal table. In 2012 Britain were 3rd. IN YOUR FACE OLYMPICS. Actually I retract that because the Olympics you see was never really about aggressive winning, it was always much more about the taking part and that is what is at the heart of Dexter Fletcher’s Eddie The Eagle, a film that will envelope you like a warm squashy hug made of pillows and loveliness. It’s by no means perfect but it is unique, refreshing and inspiring; and the jump scenes are much more thrilling than any superhero outing I’ve witnessed of late (yeah I'm talking to you Batman V Superman).
Little Eddie Edwards is growing up in seventies Cheltenham with his lovely mum and slightly less lovely dad. Eddie’s singular dream is to be an Olympian, despite being hospitalised for a year with dodgy knees and having spectacularly thick lenses in his glasses he is dogged in his determination. After an epiphany at his dad’s plastering work Eddie becomes a decent downhill skier but is pushed out, as he doesn’t quite fit in with the posh boy aesthetic. Again undeterred, Eddie takes the next most logical step and sets down the path of being Britain’s first ski jumper. With no experience and too much bravery it seems he is heading for the hospital fast when he encounters former US top ski jumper and now maudlin drunk snowplougher Bronson Peary. Despite barrier after barrier and ridicule upon ridicule Eddie gets to soar.
A large part of Fletcher’s Eddie is fictionalised. Namely that they have given Eddie an American coach played by Hugh Jackman and an even more bizarre cameo in the shape of Christopher Walken in a weird tacked on story that really doesn’t work but there is a huge amount of love around for this movie and deservedly so. It’s one of those little British films that will warm the hearts of us Brits in this current climate of doom and gloom. It almost made me forget what a prick David Cameron is. Almost Eddie, almost!
This is Dexter Fletcher’s third outing behind the camera, both Wild Bill and Sunshine on Leith being well received. Set in the glamour of Cheltenham and various European ski resorts Fletcher really makes the most of the 1988 period setting in both music and costume and it can't hep but make you smile. The music is truly 80’s tactic and really helps set the mood. I haven't enjoyed a soundtrack so much since Napoleon Dynamite (my BS other half Si is gonna LOVE IT). Fletcher’s camera work along with DP George Richmond is at times truly exciting, we spend around twenty seconds at one point soaring through the air with Eddie and it’s extremely well handled by Fletcher and Egerton. It’s compelling and convincing, as are Eddie’s countless crashes onto compacted ice. My arse hurt in sympathy for him. Fletcher has done a wonderful job here, with his actors and camerawork. It’s no mean feat to make a sporting figure who was, frankly, seen as a joke, the ginger clown who embarrassed Britain and came last into a sporting hero; someone whose guts and courage should be admired and celebrated. Well done Dexter Fletcher, and I’m not just saying that because I fancied him in Press Gang. Honest.
Taron Egerton is doing a sterling job of making us believe he is the prominent chinned, myopic Eddie and he does manage, just, to keep it on the right side of gurning. Egerton has a huge amount of natural charm and his likeability factor is through the roof so it’s hard not to side with his Eddie. Egerton isn’t playing it all for laughs though, his performance is one that does ring true and the more serious and poignant moments are tear-jerking,. Egerton can get away with the mugging because he has bona fide movie star at his side in Hugh Jackman. I mean what a bloody coup to get Jackman in this film, one of the most likeable movie stars around and it’s lovely to see him playing moody drunk and then embracing the silliness. It’s a lovely partnership between Jackman and Egerton and that dynamic is at the very heart of the movie. Keith Allen and Jo Hartley are lovely as grumpy dad and loving mum; Hartley in particular is an expert at eliciting both humour and sadness out of her scenes with Egerton. Iris Berben is fun at kindly landlady Petra and Edvin Edra is definitely one to watch, I loved his performance as Matte ‘The Flying Fin’. His scene with Eddie towards the end was one of my favourites. As aforementioned Walken’s cameo was the only note of discord in the casting harmony. I imagine that role had something to do with financing the film; anyway doesn’t work and the ending would have been better without it. There are also two great 'almost cameos' from the inimitable Tim McInnery as the acerbic but wonderfully named British Olympic head Dustin Target and Jim Broadbent as the Olympic broadcaster who gets all the best lines. Of course he does.
There are sizeable liberties with the truth in Fletcher’s Eddie The Eagle but at the end of the day - who cares? Like the man himself, the movie is inherently British - eccentric, loveable and quirky. There are some wonderful messages in this ultimately delightful, captivating and jovial film. Cheesy or not it was much more satisfying watching a film with a message that it’s good to take part, to try, and that it’s not all about winning than a film about beating the shit out of each other. Viva The Eagle!