Eddie the Eagle Review
Dexter Fletcher directs Taron Egerton as Michael ‘Eddie’ Edwards in this wobbly but wily underdog biopic so steeped in 1970s/80s British nostalgia it may as well be titled Straight Outta Trumpton. We follow Eddie on a slums-to-slopes journey as – undeterred by the dissuasions of his father – he strives to accomplish his dream of competing in the Olympics. Shy, bespectacled Edwards settles on ski jumping and begs a reluctant former champion, Bronson Peary (Hugh Jackman), to be his coach.
By some considerable distance, Egerton is the winning element here: while the script lacks any particular insight, the young Kingsman graduate provides a shy, squinty performance that captures the physicality of Edwards to such a degree that I didn’t have the usual ‘Huh…’ biopic moment as the real face of Eddie popped up to accompany the end credits. Jackman breezes his way through in a largely undemanding role (characterised as an American drunk by waving about a stars n’ stripes hipflask), raising the odd chuckle even when delivering a somewhat toe-curling pep talk involving imaginary sex with Bo Derek (no, really).
A back-up cast sporting Keith Allen (as Eddie’s grumpy father), Christopher Walken and Jim Broadbent are ill-served by a screenplay in which characters are presented in such broad strokes they resemble a zebra crossing. The worst offender arrives in the form of Tim McInnerny as cartoonishly snide and waspish Olmypic committee head, Dustin Target.
Some Matthew Vaugn-ish laddiness aside, the comedy is a crowd-pleasing affair with a remarkable success rate, despite occasional lapses into ‘Blimey, aren’t foreigners a bit funny?’ territory (a Princess Diana salt shaker shoved towards camera and continuous references to It’s a Knockout are mere glimpses into the prevailing sense of British-ness). Regardless, laughter remains consistent right up until the final act, which prefers to lean on mawkish will he/won’t he moments which still lend some undeniable excitement.
The vibrant 80s atmosphere is layered on by a chirpy score so heavy with synth that viewers will be gobsmacked to find that composer Matthew Margeson does not, in fact, sport a perm or plastic hoop earrings. Any cynicism is made massively difficult with Hall & Oates and Van Halen lending a tune to exuberant training montages, and there’s even some eye-rolling, exasperated fun to be had in the climactic comradery: this is an infectiously enjoyable (if unashamedly predictable) film, and I challenge anyone to resist cracking a broad smile in its presence.