Billed as a heart-warming underdog feel-good picture, “Eddie The Eagle” is so trite and twee that it ends up falling well short of even its modest ambitions.
The film tells the sort of true life story of Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards, from a young boy inspired by Olympic dreams to a young man determined, against all odds and obstacles, to compete at the Winter Olympics. Ignored and thwarted by officialdom and his fellow competitors, only Eddie’s dogged spirit and refusal to quit can power him through to achieve his ultimate ambition.
It’s true that the British public love an underdog and only the snobbiest elite would deny that there’s something truly remarkable in the sheer determination and courage the real life Eddie showed to pursue his dreams. Unfortunately, the film doesn’t really delve into this side of his character or his motivations, instead preferring an easy and lazy option of gentle hagiography. Eddie is portrayed as unequivocally pure and good while everyone else is cruel, callous or indifferent, making the whole thing feel superficial and lacking in authenticity. There’s little drama as the ‘setbacks’ are immediately overcome with little or no effort, every time undercutting the heroism inherent in the myth of Eddie’s ‘heroic failure’.
The casting of Taron Egerton as Eddie is extremely flattering, to a degree that would make the producers of trashy TV show “I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant” blush (seriously, check out the show to see the actors they get to play the real life people – it’s the most entertaining part). Egerton does his best to portray the mannerisms and physicality of Eddie but he simply can’t capture the inherent derpiness of the man himself. Jackman’s Bronson Peary is little more than a heavily diluted and declawed rerun of his Wolverine and the rest of the cast act like they’re in a TV Sitcom. Coupled with Dexter Fletcher’s disappointingly sluggish and overly reliant of slow Mo direction, the film never really sparks to life. Without more of an insight into the real wannabe athlete at the heart of the story and the lack of anything approaching substance or pathos, “Eddie The Eagle” feels more like a lame duck (which is, I guess, aptly ironic).