Nostalgic "Eddie The Eagle" Is 'Grade A' Cheese

If only the climax of Olympic ski jump pic “Eddie The Eagle” – and its straight-faced use of Van Halen’s synth-rock staple “Jump” – could be written off as a pin in an oversized badge of corniness. No, the moment practically demands a goofy smile, topping off 100 minutes of cheeseball wizardry with a mozzarella stick flagpole. “Eddie The Eagle” was here. Few films have ever been so concurrently insipid and charming.

Based on the true story of Englishman Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards and his unlikely trip to the 1988 Winter Olympic Games in Calgary, Dexter Fletcher’s movie hits every sports movie cliché in existence, from multiple training montages to a delectable synth-based score that gleefully underlines the movie’s toothlessness.

This isn’t just an ode to underdogs – it’s a bloody participation medal in film form, hanging its hat proudly on moral victories over real ones and self-empowerment over societal validation. It’s hokum, but the best kind; not just a spiritual successor to Disney’s “Cool Runnings” but nearly an actual one – everyone’s favorite Jamaican bobsled team was the 1988 Calgary Games’ other media sensation, one that “Eddie The Eagle” makes clear mention of.

Taron Egerton (“Kingsman – The Secret Service”) plays Eddie primarily through a pronounced underbite and incessant squinting, a knowingly simple performance in a simple film. It makes him all the easier to root for though, from failed downhill skiing career to an unreasonable hope of forging an Olympic ski jump bid out of thin air.

He does, of course, moving from ski jump rookie to intermediary in a matter of months. With the help of disgraced American ski jump legend Bronson Peary (Hugh Jackman) – a proxy of the late John Candy’s “Cool Runnings” character and a total invention of the screenwriters – Eddie finally meets the arbitrary baseline set by Great Britain’s cranky Olympic committee and finds himself off to Canada.

Eddie’s ascension to overachieving folk hero – an internet meme nearly two decades before internet memes – predictably proves a double-edged sword, backing our hero into a corner of bad choices. He can either go home a laughing stock or make an abysmally bad decision in an attempt to prove his dedication to his sport.

Despite its abundance of embellishments, the screenplay is a picture of obviousness every step of the way. But somehow this works in its favor, like a two-chord pop song that can be sung along with on the first listen.

No one will mistake “Eddie The Eagle” for a great film – or even a good one – but it’s a lovable, stupid puppy of a movie that, aside from a few sexually suggestive scenes, is accessible to just about everyone with a pulse. Just like Eddie it’s not a exactly a champ, but it’s no chump, either.

-J. Olson

Rating: ★★★ out of ★★★★★ (Okay)

Release Date: February 26, 2016
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Director: Dexter Fletcher
Screenwriter: Sean Macaulay, Simon Kelton
Starring: Taron Egerton, Hugh Jackman, Jo Hartley, Keith Allen, Iris Berben, Edvin Endre, Christopher Walken
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (for some suggestive material, partial nudity and smoking)