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article imageReview: If only we could all fly like ‘Eddie the Eagle’ Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Feb 26, 2016 in Entertainment
‘Eddie the Eagle’ is the heartwarming true story of a young man who risked life and limb to achieve his dream of being an Olympian.
Few can resist a good underdog story; particularly when it’s filled with passion and humour. There’s an almost irresistible charm about someone who refuses to give up even though the odds are stacked against them. And when things are skewed so far in the opposite direction, it’s almost inevitable that some elements of their growth will be comical (at least in hindsight). In the case of Eddie the Eagle, a gawkish young man pursues his dream of becoming an Olympian at any cost.
Michael "Eddie" Edwards (Taron Egerton) had chronic knee problems as a child, but that didn’t stop him from dreaming of one day competing in the Olympics. As soon as he was well enough, he began training for the Summer Games. Unfortunately, Eddie was not particularly skilled in any of the events; so he turned his attention to the Winter Games and became a relatively successful competitive skier. However, he was excluded from Olympic tryouts because the British committee didn’t feel his awkwardness would be good for their image. Instead of abandoning his seemingly impossible goal, Eddie found a new way to make it come true: he would qualify as the country’s only ski jumper. An exponentially more dangerous sport, in the year prior to the 1988 Winter Olympics Eddie jumps through the committee’s hoops and trains with reluctant former champion Bronson Peary (Hugh Jackman) to appear as the first British ski jumper in more than 50 years.
It’s not so much that this movie contributes anything unique to the genre, as it’s a pretty standard entry that follows the underdog formula of many obstacles and failures before ultimate success; however, it uses the classic blueprint to create an exceptionally touching story filled with heartaches and laughter. From the moment audiences meet a young Eddie, it’s impossible not to want to see him succeed. His mother is unconditionally supportive, while his father thinks he should get his head out of the clouds and find a real job already. Their opposing views on the viability of Eddie’s career as an athlete is not a serious matter of contention, though she does defiantly give more than just her support when required.
Eddie’s perseverance and spirit are what first attract Bronson — and later the world. That and the fact that Bronson doesn’t want Eddie to get himself killed. In spite of personal risk and countless warnings, Eddie climbs to the top of the hill — the 90-metre even requires an additional elevator ride above the 70-metre – with confidence and absolute belief that he will land on his feet. It’s not always enough, which results in a number of cringeworthy moments, but it is inspiring. Even though he knows he won’t win and will most likely finish last, he simply wants to do his best on the world stage. Therefore, it becomes Bronson’s job to teach him to survive. The training program he puts together for Eddie in the back of a barn is as archaic as Rocky Balboa’s in the fourth film, complete with progress montage. But it pays off in the end.
Egerton and Jackman have excellent chemistry. The former seamlessly embodies his character so the fact that he’s playing a role is entirely undetectable; on screen, he becomes Eddie Edwards. And he doesn’t allow himself to be eclipsed by the flashier Jackman, whose character inherently has a bigger personality. Though Bronson’s glory days are long behind him, hints of it remain — particularly when they pry the bottle out of his hand. Jackman exudes the bravado Eddie lacks, almost never wearing anything more than a button-down shirt with the sleeves rolled up around the snowy hills. And years of trainers helping him bulk up for Wolverine gave Jackman plenty to draw on as Eddie’s coach. But it’s Eddie and Bronson’s unequivocal love for the sport that leads to a poignant camaraderie between the two, even if it’s the only thing they have in common.
Director: Dexter Fletcher
Starring: Taron Egerton, Hugh Jackman and Christopher Walken
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