Could it possibly be that director Dexter Fletcher is the one British director who’s not had a faultless movie on his resume? First Wild Bill, then Sunshine on Leith and now Eddie the Eagle. At this rate, Fletcher’s next film will earn him Best Director at the Oscars and, if the trend continues thereafter, perhaps his fifth film will cure AIDS.
I have to admit, I barely remember Eddie the Eagle when I was a little kid. In fact I’m quite sure I confused him with Evel Knievel at various points. I mean, both of their names begin with an “E”. I vaguely remember all the coverage on the TV but if you were to ever ask me the name of any ski jumper, Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards is probably about as far as my vocabulary goes.
A true underdog story if ever there was one – and of course we’ve seen dozens – this has to be among the best of the bunch. In many ways, Fletcher’s direction plays out exactly as you’d expect: a plethora of Eighties soundtracks after a series of mishaps and training montages (often in the same sneeze), and the obligatory growing-up-and-older opening segment where we see the bespectacled and socially inept Edwards getting shat on from high.
This may sound like a downer if you’re reading this and considering going to see the film. It’s really not a downer because in the hands of Dexter Fletcher (who’s clearly learned a lot from working with some of the world’s greatest directors) Eddie the Eagle is lean, bold and enormously entertaining. It’ll take a stone cold heart not to toe-tap to the awesome soundtrack and marvel at some of the more sumptuous cinematography I’ve seen all year.
Taron Edgerton (the lead in Kingsman) plays Eddie absolutely perfectly; mannerisms are down to a tee, and it’s a far cry from the hooded thug he portrayed earlier last year. Hugh Jackman – for once not playing Wolverine – plays the drunk ex-jumper and mentor extremely well. Even Christopher Walken has a cameo.
If the film has one or two flawed spots, then it’s probably in the Keith Allen’s character of the father who seems to veer from extremely supportive to completely disaffected on the spin of a dime. Perhaps this is what really happened to Eddie – but I guess we’ll never know.
Eddie the Eagle is the feelgood smiler of the year. Will it high-jump to the awards? Remains to be seen, I suppose. But I loved it, and I’m pretty sure anyone reading this far will do, too.
Author: Andrew Mackay
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