Eddie The Eagle – Film Review

A hilarious look at the life of Eddie Edwards, Britain’s wildly unsuccessful first ever ski jumper

Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards was either one of British sport’s biggest failures or one of its greatest heroes, depending on how important you consider actually winning things to be.

At the 1988 Winter Olympics, Edwards – a short-sighted, podgy sometime builder – represented Britain in ski jumping, the first person ever to do so. He didn’t get a sniff of a medal but was nevertheless celebrated as a national treasure, a career of reality TV and novelty singles laid out ahead of him. Many may consider him a joke, but this great big silly hug of a comedy from director Dexter Fletcher (who starred in Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels and Layer Cake) treats Edwards as a victor on his own terms.

The film’s greatest quality is that it refuses to take the easy route and use Edwards as a permanent punchline. It takes his ambitions seriously. It makes clear from the get-go that Edwards’ goal is to make it to the Olympics, to prove to himself rather than the doubters around him that he can achieve that seemingly impossible dream. It’s a sports film in which it truly is the taking part that matters. How delightfully British that is.

Directing from a jaunty script by Sean Macaulay and Simon Kelton that’s largely made up – but not to any degree that should cause annoyance (we’re hardly dealing with important history here) – Fletcher keeps everything light but heartfelt. Edwards’ story is told as a series of silly adventures, but all with real importance to the man himself. You feel Eddie’s achievements. They may not matter to the sporting world, but they matter to him. Taron Egerton (Kingsman) plays Edwards as daft but not simple, backing away from making him clownish. Hugh Jackman lends the little film some swarthy star wattage as Edwards’ (completely fictional) coach.

Enthusiasm goes a long way in this sort of film and it would be very difficult not to get swept along in the avalanches of it you’ll find here. It treats Edwards’ mission as if it’s akin to that of Rocky, which in a way it is – albeit with more falling over and fewer glistening muscles. He’s only a little guy in the sporting world but Edwards’ life makes for a huge joy of a movie.