As cliché as it sounds, Eddie the Eagle is truly "a feel good movie." Americans do not know Eddie the Eagle, England's first Olympic ski jumper. Michael "Eddie" Edwards suffers paralysis as a child yet never gives up on his dream to be in the Olympics as a skier. Eddie the Eagle's true story proves the important thing in life is not triumph, but the struggle.
Eddie is portrayed by Taron Egerton (Kingsmen: the Secret Service) as an awkward deformed child whose dream seems impossible fantasy. Despite having a father (Keith Allen) who does not believe in him, Eddie uses his defiance to prove his father wrong. He becomes the first athlete to represent England in ski jumping though England refuses to fund him. Defiance becomes Eddie's friend. His mother, (Jo Hartley), also defies her husband when she funds Eddie to make it through the trials which leads to his triumph. Eddie the Eagle is about honoring defiance and a mother's nurturing love.
Hugh Jackman plays Eddie's charismatic, yet also rebellious coach Bronson Peary who in a garage teaches Eddie how to ski jump. Eddie reveres Peary whose determination to teach Eddie enables Eddie to qualify for the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics. By qualifying Eddie defies all odds. Even his team mates mock him and get him drunk though he does not drink so that he passes out during the Olympic opening ceremony. Cruelty drops off of Eddie's courageous back as he uses it as a catalyst to overcome.
After Eddie takes his first step to making Olympic history by qualifying to compete in the Olympics for England, he makes an odd, strange dance for the crowd and waves his arms in a motion much like a soaring eagle. Hence the press calls him "Eddie the Eagle."
This film is spiritual in that it shows the power of the press if one reveals oneself honestly to the world through it. Eddie holds a press conference and again defies by announcing to the world that he will attempt the longest jump-- 90m-- during the Olympics though his coach tells him that this monstrous jump could kill him. Eddie has never attempted it. Finishing last in 70m and 90m ski jumping events, Eddie the Eagle becomes famous as an example of the underdog because of his perseverance and because of his achievement without being funded by Britain.
Christopher Walken plays Warren Sharp, Peary's former coach, who demeans Peary after Sharp can no longer control him. These fine actors, Walken and Jackman, have a great scene in which they milk their moments to your popcorn's delight. Walken apologizes to Jackman whose defiance again triumphs over Walken's pride.
Dexter Fletcher directs this show stopping, heart throbbing winner without missing a beat. It begins in modest rural England showing various ages of Eddie overcoming being a cripple. All the actors playing the young Eddie are talented tots and the sets are so modest and humble it is hard to believe this is a Twentieth Century Fox Hollywood production. The humble roots of the English countryside (what we call suburbs) is without parallel for meek, modest character development. Bravo for this authenticity which punctuates Eddie's incredible journey. Sean Macauley and Simon Kelton wrote this magnificent screenplay from the book by Kelton. Dialogue is clean, clear cut and never flamboyant which allows Eddie's character to shine.
Taron Egerton plays Eddie with great skill and makes him a bit odd, almost like a geek, but always endearing. Sometimes Egerton overdoes Eddie's nerdiness, but his performance still works.
Even Britain's Olympic committee -- one person -- was opposed to Eddie's attempt to make history by creating a team for Britain. Eddie never gave up. This is Eddie the Eagle's message. We all at times have felt ridiculed and it is easier to succumb to negativity, but determination is the rainbow on the horizon shouting to Eddie, "Never give up.' As Samuel Johnson, arguably the most distinguished man of letters in English history said, "Great works are performed, not by strength, but by perseverance." Eddie the Eagle shows how Eddie created history by becoming England's first ski jumper to enter the Winter Olympics and for this reason, Eddie the Eagle is terrific.