Weekend movie review: Eddie the Eagle

When it comes to watching movies, I have to be in a certain mood for certain genres. Say, if I'm in the mood for a documentary, a rom-com won't satisfy, no matter how satisfying it might be if I were in a rom-com mood. Many times my husband and I have let a Netflix DVD sit on the shelf for weeks because we're just not in the mood for drama or perhaps historical fiction at the moment despite wanting to see the movie at some point.

One genre I'm always up for, though, always in the mood to watch is the feel-good, root-for-the-underdog genre. Which I'm pretty sure isn't, technically, a movie genre. But it's one of my favorite sorts of films, especially if it's based on a real-life wanna-be winner and has a fair sprinkling of humor and sweetness flavoring the inspirational tale being told.

eddie the eagle

EDDIE THE EAGLE, starring Taron Egerton and Hugh Jackman plus delightful secondary stars — including Christopher Walken in a brief but key part — is exactly that sort of film.

Egerton plays Michael "Eddie" Edwards, a quirky, committed, and seemingly fearless young British lad who was determined from a young age to compete in the Olympics despite nearly everything — and nearly everyone in his life — being against him. Except for his unflagging determination to realize his dream. He wasn't athletic, his family had no money or connections, he didn't even have a coach.

Eddie's dream exasperates his dad, who wants Eddie to be realistic about his chances and take up the plaster trade, like his father. Mom wants the same, yet holds out a bit of hope and offers a smidgen of support for her boy's lifelong goal because, well, that's what moms do. Eddie has drained the family finances, alienated athletic organizations that could help him get to the Olympics by not admitting he has no talent and no reason whatsoever to be allowed to compete in the Olympics.

Yet Eddie didn't give up going for the gold... or at least an opportunity to represent Great Britain in downhill skiing. In his dogged pursuit, he crosses paths with Bronson Perry (a fictional character played by Jackman), a former skier who now drinks away his days. Perry initially refuses to offer Eddie any tips or help of any sort, yet soon succumbs to Eddie's charm and determination that far outweighs his lack of talent. The result of their partnership — and Eddie's gumption — played out (in real life) at the 1988 Calgary Olympics.


EDDIE THE EAGLE is sweet, funny, and sometimes a little sad in light of the way folks — from family to competitors to officials — treated Eddie. At the end of the movie, my first comment to my husband was, "Imagine what he could have done if he'd had true support all along."

One note: The characters are British, naturally, which means they're a wee bit difficult to understand at times. But it's worth muddling through or rewinding a smidgen to catch what was said. (Or having a movie-watching partner so you can take turns asking the other what was said, which is how my husband and I rolled.)

I didn't know the true story of Eddie and the manner in which he became a sensation representing Britain at the 1988 Olympics, the competition where he earned his "Eddie the Eagle" moniker from the media. Even if I had recalled the events, the movie would have appealed to me. It makes you feel good, makes you root for the underdog, makes you laugh and cheer and chuckle. And it inspires you to never give up — even if everyone and everything around you encourages you to do exactly that. EDDIE THE EAGLE and the real-life Eddie prove dreams can indeed become reality, regardless of what anyone tells you.

The film made me want to learn more about real-life Eddie, who is now 52. This is from Good Morning America:


EDDIE THE EAGLE (rated PG-13 for "some suggestive material, partial nudity and smoking") premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in February of this year. It will be released on Digital HD May 27, 2016 and DVD and Blu-ray June 14, 2016. Find out more on the official EDDIE THE EAGLE website.

Disclosure: I received access to a free screener of this film, courtesy Fox Home Entertainment; opinions are my own.