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Eddie the Eagle (8/10)

by Tony Medley

Runtime 105 minutes.

OK for children.

Unathletic Michael “Eddie” Edwards (Taron Egerton) was a British youth who dreamed all his life of being an Olympics star. His middle class parents tolerated him. His mother encouraged him but his father discouraged him. He couldn’t qualify for anything but when he discovered that there was an event in the winter Olympics called ski jumping and that Britain never entered it, he decided that was his ticket to the Olympics and became, overnight and in name only, a ski jumper.

This is his unlikely story. If you saw Taron Egerton in Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014), you won’t recognize him here. Adopting the real Eddie’s underbite, he goes from being a fledgling secret agent in Kingsman to an enthusiastic nerd.

While these events took place almost thirty years ago, director Matthew Vaughn said he was inspired by the feel good 1993 John Candy film, Cool Runnings, about the Jamaican bobsled team in the 1988 Winter Olympics that he saw with his children in 2014, and wondered why they didn’t make films like that anymore and got the desire to make another film with the same feeling.

The scenery and skiing shots are terrific. For insurance reasons, however, none of the actors were allowed to do any skiing. Some of the shots of the skiers in the air on their jumps are amazing. This was achieved by having two jumpers go at the same time, with one sometimes preceding the skier being filmed with his go pro camera on backwards and sometimes following him down the ski jump.

Egerton attended my screening and said when he was invited to the first screening of the film he was seated next to the real Eddie, and he was extremely nervous, concerned how Eddie would react to his performance. When the screening ended, he looked at Eddie and he had tears in his eyes, he was so moved by what he had seen.

Matthew Vaughn accomplished what he set out to do, made a film the likes of which you rarely see any more, and more’s the pity (that you rarely see them, not that he made it).