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EDDIE THE EAGLE (UK/USA/Germany 2016) ***
Directed by Dexter Fletcher
Starring: Taron Egerton, Hugh Jackman, Tom Costello Jr.
Review by Gilbert Seah
EDDIE THE EAGLE is the typical type of British export crowd pleaser that have charmed North American audiences. Similar films like KINKY BOOTS, THE FULL MONTY, BEND IN LIKE BECKHAM, BRASSED OFF and THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL have all done well at the box-office. So, why not a film about the feel-good story of Michael (Eddie) Edwards (played by Taron Egerton) appropriately called EDDIE THE EAGLE?
Eddie is a tenacious British ski jumper who believes he is good enough to enter the Olympics. He has never stopped believing in himself, much to the consternation of his dad, a plasterer who wants his son to follow his own footsteps. Even the British Olympic Selection Committee wants him out. With the help of a rebellious and charismatic coach (played with equal tenacity by Hugh Jackman), Eddie takes on the establishment and wins the hearts of sports fans around the world by making an improbable and historic showing at the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics. Based on true events – as the titles at the films start tells the audience.
Top marks for effort go to Hugh Jackman who plays disgraced skier Bronson Peary who eventually becomes Eddie’s coach. It must be tough for this talent to go through all the ropes. It is tough enough to pretend to play someone who cares, but to evoke all the fake emotions, do the silly dance training steps and act and cry as if it all matters, Jackman does the job. (He must have been paid a lot.) As for Egerton who plays the lead role, he looks and acts too much like Bubbles of the Trailer Park Boys. But to be fair, the real Edwards, shown at the end credits does look like Bubbles. The film contains a few neat cameos from the likes of Christopher Walken and Jim Broadbent.
To the film’s credit, the film set in the 80’s with the Calgary Olympic 1988 setting does have an authentic 80’s atmosphere aided by the film’s 80’s songs soundtrack. The choice of Van Halen’s song “Jump’ used is a bit too obvious.
Director Fletcher (whose credit in film lies in the acting department from various minor roles in films and television) has created a film that is 100% formulaic is 0% originality. Whether the film succeeds depends entirely of which school of audience one comes from. The general public would have no problem cheering whenever Eddie makes a jump or laughing whenever he falls as observed in the promo screening attended. The other school would only grimace and wish the real ‘Eddie’ with all the human faults be revealed in a feel-bad story.
For the general public, this is the kind for feel good movie many would have no problem paying good money for. Fletcher pushes all the right buttons – in fact too many right buttons so that nothing out of the ordinary can be expected. For this group of people, the movie would be rated 4 stars. For the other film cynical critics, filmmakers and art-house cineastes, this 1-star movie is a complete bore and a waste of time.
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