Eddie The Eagle Uplifts a Fading Empire
By Skip Sheffield
Everyone loves an underdog. Michael “Eddie” Edwards was more than just an underdog. He was a source of national pride for a fading British empire.
Eddie Edwards is played by Taron Egerton. Egerton is a British actor who co-starred with Alicia Vikander in “Testament of Youth,” but this is by far is biggest role, and he nails it.
Eddie Edwards was plagued from childhood with poor vision and weak knees. He was told he could never make it into the Olympics. What Edwards lacked in physical prowess he made up with intelligence and sheer determination. When Edwards learned the British had not fielded an Olympic ski-jumping team in 52 years, he decided to focus on that. Besides, it was easier to quality for that than for the cut-throat downhill skiing competition.
Eddie’s skeptical father (Keith Allen) is no help. He thinks Eddie should concentrate on the family plastering business. Mom (Jo Hartley) on the other hand is supremely supportive of her dorky son, no matter how unlikely his quest seems.
Taron Egerton must have put on weight to play chubby Eddie. His first yellowish ski outfit makes him look like Winnie-the-Pooh, and his thick glasses make him look even more nerdy.
Director Dexter Fletcher and writer Simon Kelton have taken liberties with the facts. The largest liberty is the fictional character of washed-up, alcoholic ex-ski-jumper Bronson Peary, played with wry bravado by Broadway star Hugh Jackman. The salvation of booze-soaked Peary dovetails with the success of teetotaler, milk-drinking Eddie. Will Peary’s nemesis, former ski jump champion Warren Sharp (Christopher Walken at his haughtiest) finally forgive and respect Pathetic Peary? One guess.
Yes, “Eddie The Eagle” is corny and predictable, but like the real Eddie Edwards it is a crowd-pleaser. Edwards may have come in dead last in both his events at the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics, but he emerged a national hero for a country that desperately needed one.