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Movie Review: Eddie the Eagle

It has been a long time since I have felt so anxious in the seat of a movie theater. Clinging to the armrest, biting my lip, holding my breath, I cringed in fear every time Eddie the Eagle sped down a jump to his potential demise. Recounting the story of one of the greatest Olympic underdogs, director Dexter Fletcher (“Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels”) brings enormous energy and fun to the screen.

Eddie’s story triumphs as England’s own miracle on ice,Taron Egerton (“Kingsman: The Secret Service”) commands the film in his portrayal of the film’s eponymous lead, Eddie. I quickly fell in love with Egerton’s boundless confidence and determination. He charms, gawks, and stumbles at all the right moments for an uproariously funny portrayal. Further, Egerton expertly develops persistent quirks and small rituals throughout the film that make Eddie seem like such an immediately familiar character. Overall, the ease with which Egerton stepped into the role kept me from comparing his portrayal to the character’s real-life counterpart. Egerton’s humanization of the character makes for some of the film’s most passionate moments.

The other actors in the film deliver strong, believable performances as the various relationships in Eddie’s life are fleshed out. In particular, Eddie’s fictional coach Bronson Peary, portrayed by Hugh Jackman (“The Wolverine”), provided an excellent foil against which Egerton can measure his success and fortitude. Jackman plays a failed ski jumping champion and American cowboy who refuses to give Egerton any credit. The conflict between these two characters provides some of the greatest moments for Eddie’s determined spirit to shine through.

The moments in which Jackman criticizes, teaches, and supports Eddie bring his role as his surrogate father to life. He even goes so far to help the awkward kid learn about sex, which is just one of dozens of the film’s many wonderful comedic moments. I found myself cackling in the theater as Fletcher and Egerton subverted my expectations of traditional physical comedy cliches. Although Eddie the Eagle relies on physical humor as a sports film, it is chalk full of quips, one-liners, and comebacks that play as both conversational and delightfully funny. All in all it would be difficult to watch the film without laughing out loud frequently.

These elements are all assisted by a fantastic, era appropriate score. Synths and electronic beats help bring the 80s to life in Egerton’s quest for Olympic fame. The sounds soar and dive to reflect the emotional turmoil within Egerton as he faces each new challenge in his preparation. More than any other elements of the film, the score serves to establish the context of each scene and build its inspirational message. Perpetually as upbeat as Egerton himself, the music helps to speed the movie along so that, despite its 100 minute runtime, it never drags or slows down too much. The songs throughout the Olympic Games are especially powerful in terms of keeping energy high. Each piece fits into the scene so seamlessly it can be hard to say whether the characters on screen are not hearing the same music.

Unfortunately however, Eddie the Eagle’s poor use of CGI undermines many of these moments. Frequently blocky computer stand-ins are used during moments when characters actually get around to going off jumps. These serve as unpleasant breaks from the suspension of disbelief. This is made even more unfortunate by the fact that these moments are usually when I was most invested in the fate of the characters jumping.

Overall, however, the film uplifts and inspires as a well put together film that had me smiling and cheering. I even felt compelled to clap in the moments of Eddie’s greatest triumph. If you’re feeling down and stressed by midterms, take the time to see one of the most inspirational and fun movies about the Olympics to come out since Cool Runnings; I know it made me feel better.

Grade: A-

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