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Eddie The Eagle - DVD Review

Eddie The Eagle

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

DEXTER Fletcher’s take on the true story of British sporting underdog Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards is a strange affair. On the one hand, it’s a feel-good crowd-pleaser that succeeds in spite of its familiarity and flaws. But on the other, it niggles because of some odd creative decisions.

In real life, Edwards shot [or jumped] to prominence at the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics when his unlikely exploits in the ski jump earned him cult status – not least for the way in which he celebrated each jump with comical flapping-bird gestures. Edwards may have come last in both the 70m and 90m events – but he had a good time doing it and achieved a celebrity no one could have seen coming.

In Fletcher’s film, pretty much the same thing happens, except that the story has been elaborated to include a completely made-up character and an overly familiar triumph-against-the-odds parallel tale.

As if Edwards’ own story wasn’t remarkable enough, audiences also get Hugh Jackman’s washed-up former jumper Bronson Peary, who reluctantly agrees to coach Edwards and ends up finding some kind of personal redemption. But while certainly enlivening the film and contributing to some good chemistry, it does pose the lingering question of ‘why did they need to do it’?

Taken on its own merits, however, Fletcher’s film is an unashamedly British affair that revels in its underdog elements and succeeds in both putting a smile on your face and leaving you quietly emotional.

Kingsman: The Secret Service star Egerton is particularly good as Edwards, physically tapping into the awkward mannerisms of the unlikely skiing hero, yet making him an endearingly plucky presence. It’s a performance that combines both physical comedy and emotional awareness, so that you can be laughing at him one minute, or rooting for him the next. He’s also highly sympathetic.

Jackman, for his part, does the grizzled veteran routine very well, injecting some of the Wolverine gruffness into proceedings, as well as plenty of encouragement. His own personal journey has been walked many, many times before… but he does it well.

There’s notable support, too, from the likes of Jo Hartley as Edwards’ doting mum, Keith Allen as his sceptical dad, Christopher Walken as a former coach who provides a belated moment to tug at the heart-strings, and Tim McInnerny as a particularly mean-spirited member of the British Olympics Committee.

If many of these characters feel contrived, or in keeping with standard British sitcom traditions, then this is probably a deliberate ploy by Fletcher to invoke a certain kind of British spirit. And thanks to his deft handling of the material, it proves a largely winning formula.

Hence, for everything that grates (and there are some scenes that are over-done or hopelessly formulaic), there are plenty more moments to savour. In a sense, Eddie The Eagle overcomes its own limitations and general pre-release scepticism to fly much higher than anyone could have expected.

Certificate: PG
Running time: 1hr 45mins
UK Blu-ray & DVD Release: August 8, 2016