Upon hearing about Eddie the Eagle I immediately knew that Hollywood was giving us another maudlin, stereotypical, sickeningly sweet feel good sports movie. What else could it be? You can check off all the cliches as you watch the trailer. Plucky, but flawed hero meets cynical and also flawed mentor whom the hero manages to win over through determination and heart. There will be inspirational speeches, a time when all seems lost, and heartwarming lessons about life learned through overcoming adversity.
About 20 minutes into the film, though, as I was checking off the list of underdog sports film tropes off in my head there was a scene I didn’t see coming. Something that set Eddie the Eagle apart from other films that share its genre. I won’t say what it was, but it was something that sprouted very organically from the subject matter of the film, something that made perfect sense, wasn’t at all a gimmick, yet still set Eddie the Eagle apart from the other films of its ilk. Suddenly, the film grabbed me. I was invested, my cynicism was being lifted away, and I was now hoping that Eddie the Eagle could, in fact, show me that it contained greatness.
Unfortunately, that greatness was fleeting. As after just a few stabs at the quality that set it apart from its brethren, Eddie the Eagle went back to being the cliched, maudlin film that it seemed to be from the start.
Aside from its sin of predictability, there’s nothing really horrible to say about Eddie the Eagle. Both Taron Eggerton as Michael “Eddie the Eagle” Edwards and Hugh Jackman as his initially grudging but ultimately bestest friend coach, Bronson Peary, give charming, likable performances. Neither brings anything new to their role, but they both have heaping helpings of charisma to make up for it. The dialogue is never problematic and can often be downright engaging, and the cinematography does its work and, well let’s just say it is the component of the film that gave me my fleeting moment of fandom mentioned above.
Eddie the Eagle, in case you can’t tell already, is a film I am very mixed on. The critical side of me sees an awful lot of mediocrity and cliche here, but despite that, I still left the theater with a smile on my face, and perhaps even the very beginnings of a fist pump. If you are already a fan of the genre, and I know at least a few of you reading this are, Eddie the Eagle is one of the better examples of its kind, and even if you’re not I’d still recommend checking it out one day when it makes its way to cable and streaming services. It may not be a bastion of originality, but its got so much heart even a curmudgeon like me has to sit up and take notice.
Rating: 5.0 out of 10