11. Eddie the Eagle

Going about this crazy crusade of mine to see 100 2016 releases in the theaters is bound to result in my seeing some movies that I otherwise wouldn’t have.  Eddie the Eagle is one of those.

For the most part, the film is probably what you think it is.  There are a lot of sports/underdog movie close cliches that are present and waiting to be checked off your checklist: loving mother and unsupportive father, a-hole jocks hazing the lovable geek, comedic spit takes, and – yes – the omnipresent training montage.  But there is a little more than that to Eddie.

This is already the second film of 2016 about a struggling prospective Olympian. But I think this one succeeds in one important area where the other, Race, surprisingly dropped the ball: I was invested in the protagonist’s journey.

This largely comes from director Dexter Fletcher’s ability to communicate the seriousness and ominous threat of the challenges that lay before Eddie.  I felt nervous every time he took his starting position and when things didn’t go well, the consequences weren’t glossed over.

The performances were helpful, as well, as Taron Egerton was endearing as Eddie and Hugh Jackman brings the same heart to his role as Eddie’s coach that he brings to every single part he plays.  He has to be one of the most likable guys in Hollywood, both on- and off-screen.

The humor generally fell flat for me, though I admittedly chuckled a few times.  And no bones are made about the film occurring in the eighties as pop songs from the decade play at appropriate moments and the score, itself, sounds like it was pulled straight from another film of that time.  I felt immersed in the film and much of that is owed to the music.

The messages of these sports films generally fall into one of two arenas and this one is no different, but a couple of unexpected bumps in the road occur along the way, and I appreciated that.  As I mentioned when discussing Race, Hollywood has a penchant for selecting true stories for films that play out a lot like other true stories that have already been adapted.  So, something needs to be different about each one.  Eddie the Eagle isn’t all that different from any other sports movie, but it has a moment or two.

I don’t think anyone needs to rush out and make Eddie a priority.  If you wanted to see it, anyway, go see it.  If someone invites you to go, go with them.  It’s not a bad time at the movies.  Just don’t expect any huge surprises.

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