Tribute a leap of faith EDDIE THE EAGLE
++ Director: Dexter Fletcher (Sunshine on Leith) Starring: Taron Egerton, Hugh Jackman, Jo Hartley, Keith Allen Verdict: Too much doesn’t quite wing true HE came. He soared. He finished stone motherless last.
That was the beginning, middle and end of the Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards experience at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Canada.
Swooping down from the not-sosteep slopes of Gloucestershire, Eddie represented Great Britain in the elite 70m and 90m sections of the Ski Jumping competition with complete indistinction.
So gloriously conspicuous was the man’s incompetence when airborne that worldwide cult heroism was the only possible outcome.
Almost three decades later, the further you delve into the story of Eddie Edwards, the stranger and funnier it gets.
For instance, Eddie got word of making the British Olympic squad while living in a mental institution in Finland. OK, he was a lodger, not a patient. Nevertheless, it’s a typical moment in the life of a man who later went on to title his autobiography (I kid you not) On the Piste.
So even though it has arrived curiously late after the fact, a movie all about Eddie Edwards shouldn’t have to do much to win over an audience. Or so you world have thought. Unfortunately, the makers of Eddie the Eagle have other ideas in mind when it comes to telling his remarkable life story.
Though gifted a highly original tale full of stuff you just couldn’t make up, director Dexter Fletcher and screenwriters Sean Macaulay and Simon Kelton ignore a lot of it. Instead, they make up their own stuff. And with each added embellishment, the more unoriginal (and unreliable) the tale of Eddie the Eagle becomes.
The most glaring example is the character of Bronson Peary, the former American champ who becomes Eddie’s coach, mentor and all-round inspiration.
Peary is a colourful piece of work as played by Hugh Jackman – a chainsmoking alcoholic with a zinger for every occasion.
There is just one problem. Bronson Peary never existed. And when you consider how much of the movie is chewed up by his battle with the booze and unconventional training tips, that’s a big problem.
Poor old Eddie himself cops it even worse. He doesn’t even get to be a character in his own movie. Instead, as played by Taron Egerton (the breakout star of last year’s surprise action hit Kingsman: The Secret Service), he is a caricature.
And a wonky one, at that. Egerton seems so concerned with nailing Eddie’s famously twitchy facial mannerisms that he forgets all about the other requirements of the role.
All he delivers is a dope with a death wish – a fearless, feckless, flying Forrest Gump who wanted nothing more in life than five Olympic rings stitched on his tracksuit jacket. Now showing State Cinema and Village Cinemas