Golden duo let down by clichés
As Leicester City’s march towards an unlikely English Premier League title shows, everyone loves a good underdog story.
And there are few bigger underdogs in sporting history than Eddie Edwards (played here by Taron Egerton), a Cheltenham plumber who went all the way to the 1988 Winter Olympics as the UK’s first ever Olympic ski jumper, despite a severe lack of ability.
It’s a story that seems ripe for the cinematic picking and ex-Press Gang star turned director Dexter Fletcher is the man tasked with getting the project off the ground.
Fletcher is no stranger to a crowd-pleasing Brit flick, having helmed 2013’s likeable big screen take on hit musical Sunshine of Leith, and he is clearly a fan of the traditional sporting success movie template.
Quickly edited training montages? Check. Bully boy rivals mocking our hero’s efforts? Check. Overcoming initial fears to improve second and third time around? You bet.
The director even goes as far as introducing a fictional coach – Hugh Jackman’s superbly named Bronson Peary – to help Eddie take flight.
A predictable, story-enhancing move it may be, but it proves to be the film’s masterstroke as Jackman has a ball as a gruff mentor equally adept at dishing out putdowns and inspirational pep talks.
The relationship between Jackman and Egerton is a joy to behold and the young Kingsman: The Secret Service star thrives off trading barbs with Wolverine in his best performance yet.
It would be easy for Eddie to come across as a bumbling fool complete with saucer-size glasses, but Egerton embodies the British icon with warmth, infectious optimism and a burning desire to do his family, coach and country proud.
Fletcher also brings the thrills when Eddie straps on his skis, not least with dizzying camerawork as the wannabe Olympian teeters on the edge of the abyss of a steep drop that would leave even renowned high wire daredevil Philippe Petit a little green around the gills.
On equally shaky footing, though, is the screenplay by debut movie writers Sean Macaulay and Simon Kelton. The aforementioned clichés are so familiar you can guess which scenes are coming next and characters like Tim McInnerny’s bureaucrat and Keith Allen’s working-class dad are so paper thin you half expect them to blow away.
And as nice as it is to see acting legends Jim Broadbent and Christopher Walken on hand, blink and you really will miss their rather redundant contributions.
But there’s also something imminently endearing about the inoffensive, charming family fun Eddie the Eagle delivers in spades (or should that be snow shovels?).
It’s no Cool Runnings, but, let’s face it, very few sporting flicks hit those heights.
Hitting the slopes Egerton and Jackman target ski jump glory