Eddie the Eagle is a bio-pic about Eddie Edwards, a British Olympic Ski jumper who did not excel at his sport, but captured the imagination of people around the world for his determination and spirit.
It begins with his childhood, as a young Eddie is fascinated by the Olympics, and is determined to be an Olympic athlete. Through a short sequence we see him attempt various sports that would be in the summer games, before deciding on the winter sport of skiing. It is not said outright, but it is evident that Eddie has some disability such as Autism or Asperger Syndrome. Perhaps because of this he is portrayed with a single mindedness to be in the Olympics, and his lack of athletic ability doesn’t waver him in that vision.
Eddie attempts to make the Olympic Skiing team. Falling short, he realizes that the British don’t have a ski jumping team. The next sequence has him training in Germany. We see his struggles with both trying to be a great ski jumper, and with other athletes around him making fun of him etc.
Hugh Jackman enters the film as a hard drinking disgraced American ski jumper who ends up reluctantly being his coach. This character has his own arc which is of redemption, including an appearance by actor Christopher Walken. Jackman’s character feels a little flat, not rising up much against his archetype. After viewing I learned Jackman’s character is fictional, so that is probably why.
After overcoming a series of obstacles Eddie makes it to the Olympics and becomes a celebrity after placing last in the 70 meter jump but simultaneously breaking the British Ski Jump record. Worried that he has become a novelty and wanting to be taken seriously, he enters the 90m event, leading to the climax of the film.
Approaching the final jump, he has a conversation with his hero, champion ski jumper Matti “The Flying Finn” Nykänen. This is an interesting conversation with a theme of the importance of doing your best, no matter how good your best may be.
The film ends with Eddie returning home to a hero’s welcome. His mother is portrayed as having always supporting him while his father did not. At the end his father tells Eddie he’s proud of him, but seemingly not out of any character development but rather because that’s how plots for these kind of movies work. They never have a movie like this where the father is encouraging and the mother is not.
Eddie the Eagle provides some feel good moments, but does not have the impact an inspirational story like this should. Parts of the film, like Eddie hurting himself a lot in his early ski jump attempts, are played for laughs when they should be seeking audience sympathy.
Just as Eddie the Eagle was not the best ski jumper, this is not the best inspirational film, but like Eddie Edwards, it’s endearing and pushes the right buttons enough to get at least some of the audience behind it.