Eric here for the new Hugh Jackman. Eddie the Eagle tells the true-life story of Michael “Eddie” Edwards, who became the first skier to represent Great Britain in Olympic ski jumping in 1988. The comic spin: Eddie is not really an athlete, or a particularly good skier. But he’s a dreamer! And tenacious!
Even if this weren’t a true story, you’d know from the first few scenes where it was headed. Director Dexter Fletcher doesn’t have any aspiration higher than to make you feel good, but he has a just-pluckier-than-sitcom sensibility that feels predictably right for this genre. He delivers the kind of film that studio executives love, where nothing is challenging and all the characters fall into their respective stereotypes (including groan-inducing taunting foreign competitors and the horny middle-aged female bar owner.!)
Where the filmmakers got it right, and very very lucky, is with their two leads. Externally, Taron Egerton (Kingsman: The Secret Service) overplays the comedy with a bit too many Zellwegarian face scrunches, but internally he has a surefooted instinct for the joke and knows how to keep things surprising with his captivating capriciousness. For this film the latter goes a long way. Jackman has essentially no character on the page, but he plays it as if nobody told him he’s in a mediocre movie. One of Jackman’s secret weapons as a movie star is that he always knows exactly what is required of him in any given film. Here he just needs to loan out his star wattage to add credibility and look great in jeans; he supplies both with sweet aplomb.
Even though this movie has low ambitions, which it achieves with low success, it’s tough to be mad at it. There are enough bright lines of dialogue to make you wish there were more, plus a bouncy score that salutes 80s comedies (until it veers towards standard, Feel-This-Way scoring). The film may be as subversive as a Norman Rockwell painting, but when Egerton and Jackman walk towards each other flapping their wings, there’s a pleasant little high.