Apparently it isn’t the winning that’s important, but the taking part. That and other sporting clichés fall thick and fast in Eddie the Eagle, director Dexter Fletcher’s well-meaning but utterly predictable tribute to the eponymous Olympian circa the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics.
For optimum enjoyment, I recommend taking a feel-good sports movie cliché bingo sheet into the cinema. Childhood ambition? Check. Massive underdog? Check. Initially less than supportive paternal figure? Check. Washed-up former athlete coach? Check. Resistance from the establishment? Check. Sneering from professional athletes? Check. Perseverance against the odds? Check. Last minute crises? Check. Triumph of the human spirit finale? Hey, you don’t want me to spoil the entire plot, do you?
In fairness, the film is well acted and directed, particularly by Taron Edgerton and Hugh Jackman as Eddie and his coach Bronson Peary respectively. There is decent support from the likes of Keith Allen, Tim McInnerny and Jo Hartley, and an all-too-brief appearance by Christopher Walken adds a little depth to Peary’s background, albeit nothing particularly unexpected.
I suppose the film is enjoyable, and it is sometimes fun to see our protagonist overcome resistance from English snobbery, German bureaucracy and Norwegian mockery. But Simon Kelton and Sean Macaulay’s screenplay never really allows the characters to rise beyond the two-dimensional. Yes, I know it’s based on a true story, but if the film is accurate then life is very clichéd.
In short, there is nothing here that you haven’t seen countless times before, regardless of the fact that certain tabloids have ludicrously proclaimed this the “feel good film of the year”. However, if upbeat sporting movies that praise the virtues of “taking part” are your thing, by all means give Eddie the Eagle a go.