Having grown up in the UK, I’m very familiar with Eddie the Eagle. Yep, this is one of those “true story” films, very British in nature, the tale of an underdog, of perseverance and somewhat hilarious buffoonery. The fact that’s it’s true makes it all the more heartwarming.
In 1988, Eddie “the Eagle” Edwards became the first competitor to represent Great Britain in Olympic ski jumping since 1929. ’88 was also the year the Jamaican bobsled team made their mark, a tale brought tot he screens in Cool Runnings. There are a lot of parallels between the two, but the difference is that Eddie isn’t being pushed along by John Candy, he’s a man determined to make his mark. Entering the Olympics he was the British ski jumping record holder, the world number nine in amateur speed skiing, and had successfully jumped 6 buses. He also happened to be very farsighted, wearing thick glasses that became something of a trademark. I won’t spoil the end of his story, but his tale was a heartwarming one and it is brought to life here with a lot of respect and warmth.
Egerton does a 180 from his impressive turn in Kingsmen, further showcasing his abilities. His Eddie is spot on, a quirky but honest guy who endears himself to you greatly. Jackman does well as his coach Bronson Peary, a gruff, irascible sort. But it’s together when they both really shine, playing off each other with a great chemistry. They’re backed up by lashings of British talent such as Jim Broadbent, Tim McInnerny, Keith Allen, and Jo Hartley to name but a few. With Matthew Vaughn producing and Dexter Fletcher directing, it adds a sheen to the project. It’s predictable in parts, but this is countered by its basis in a true story; it’s just necessary to remind yourself of that fact throughout.
It’s an underdog story with a British sensibility. That charm will no doubt appeal to many. Eddie is a character and a determined soul, and it’s incredibly easy to root for him, compounded for me by memories of him on TV during the ’80s. It does hammer home his odds at success a little much in the beginning, but once the film picks up steam it becomes a delight: a little cheesy at times, verging on the slapstick, but with smatterings of self-deprecation to ground it. Eddie the Eagle very much embraces the national sentiment of “we’re British, we’re a bit shit, but we’re going to have a right go at it anyway.”
THE PACKAGEThe Blu-ray shows a quality video transfer. A largely snowy setting usually shows up flaws in a release, but this looks great. The interior scenes and those back in the UK show great detail and contrast.
Special Features include Let The Games Begin: Soaring with Eddie the Eagle, a documentary which is broken down into three parts; All or Nothing: The Hero’s Heart, An Unlikely Friendship: Eddie & Peary, and Attitude is Altitude: Filming the Ski Jumps. Together they run over 45 minutes and provide quite an expansive look at multiple aspects of the film. A nice feature. There’s also a Still Gallery, the allure of such a feature on a release I have yet to understand. There’s a DVD and digital copy of the film included.
Perhaps the most welcome feature would have been audio commentaries, perhaps with the stars, but most pertinently with the subject himself. It’s a shame it wasn’t made possible.
THE BOTTOM LINE
With Eddie the Eagle, Egerton continues to burnish his reputation. The film invests you in the era, in the characters and in the legend of Eddie “the Eagle” Edwards. A biopic with a lot of laughs and a lot of heart. Just delightful.
Eddie the Eagle is available on Blu-ray from June 14, 2016.