Does it crash and burn?
Eddie the Eagle is about Michaels “Eddie” Edwards (played by Taron Egerton) who through sheer determination fought his entire life to become an Olympic athlete. The film follows Eddie from a young age and into early adulthood. It is somewhat hard to watch this triumph of the underdog tale without immediately comparing it to Rocky and/or Remember the Titans. These comparisons, while natural, are not entirely fair to the story as a whole. It is not trying to be as powerful (for lack of a better term) than the other films mentioned. Instead, the goal is to have a fun, warm, and interesting adventure about an awkward young man who refused to give up his dream.
Sounds great, right? In some ways it is, but the underlining problem of the film is that Eddie isn’t the easiest character to root for. We can appreciate the effort and determination, but it is brought up several times that his endless attempts at numerous sports have nearly bankrupted his parents. He steals his father’s vehicle, and takes most of their savings in his quest. Egerton plays the part great; he is both charming, odd, likable, and annoying at once. He balances moments of frustration with scenes of endearment, and the strength of his performance left me impressed. However, I wasn’t ever really behind Eddie as a whole.
On a whim, Eddie plans to become a ski-jumper, and leaves for Germany to visit the most prestigious training camp. While there, he meets his future mentor Bronson Peary (Hugh Jackman) and a lot of dicks. I get that professional athletes would turn their nose at a newcomer, but the film makes almost every other character one dimensional in an effort to force us to support Eddie. These moments feel cheap, and the lack of true development of any other characters makes the film seem somehow dishonest. A criticism of Eddie is that he took the spotlight away from people who have trained their entire lives, and this film more or less tacitly supports that argument.
An interesting aspect of the film is the lengths the British Olympic Commission went to stop Eddie from competing. Here we have an underlying discussion of privilege and right in competing, but these discussions are more decorative than substantial to the plot. Part of the problem is that we all know more or less what is going to happen in the film, and this makes these real problems little more than hurdles for our hero.
The tone of the film is somewhat imbalanced. We have sweet moments, funny moments, and dramatic moments all at once. When done well, this is a wonderful balance, but here it is like the film sometimes forgets what it is trying to do. Is Peary’s crippling alcoholism a joke or a serious comment on fallen stars? Is Eddie greedy and self-serving or simply a scamp? I think they were aiming for an honest look (whatever that really is), but ended up with a little confusion structurally.
If you’re looking for a safe and family friendly flick, I think this could serve the purpose. Though it does try for edgier humor at moments (that are really awkward). I had a bit of fun watching it, and while some of the humor failed, I did laugh at a few moments. It isn’t a bad film, but it won’t leave much of an impression. 5/10