For those of us of a certain vintage, hurtling around the corner of life, slipping effortlessly – not to mention majestically – into our prime years, the name Eddie Edwards will instantly transport us back in time to the decade that style forgot, the 1980s.
Side-stepping the sticky issue of the decade’s defining politics if I may, it was a decade with a propensity for a head-in-the-sand kind of innocence and naivety, and a decade of film-making quite unlike any other.
Aaah, so many rose-tinted memories of films that absolutely defined our childhoods, yet barely warrant a repeat viewing today without inducing a considerable dose of ‘curled toe’ and certainly not films that have stood the test of time in any great way or in any significant numbers.
But I guess that’s why we love them.
At the tail end of this most ‘bubble-like’ of decades and this time of ‘good and plenty,’ was the culmination of the Eddie Edwards story – one of the great triumph in the face of adversity, quintessentially British, plucky loser stories.
First and foremost, let me just say that it’s about time somebody made this film.
It’s an amazing if clearly ridiculous tale, characterised by an unconventional character that really should have known better, yet, in that rather typically British, care-free, ‘bollocks to the consequences’ manner, he didn’t, and Gawd bless him for it.
No-one perfects the art – and it is an art – of losing, quite like the British – apart from maybe Equatorial Guinea. Eric the Eel certainly made a considerable splash at the Sydney Olympics – but I digress…
Dexter Fletcher has gone the whole hog here in his depiction of events directing a movie that isn’t just set in the 1980s but actually feels like a 1980s movie; Matthew Margeson’s Dave Grusin-esque soundtrack adding considerably to this over all aura.
How much of Sean Macaulay and Simon Kelton’s screenplay is faithful to actual events, I’ve no idea, but the story unfolds with Eddie Edwards (Taron Egerton) as a young lad; a dreamer with a gammy leg, determined to represent his country at the Olympics by any means possible. Certainly not born an athlete by any description, his encouragement is virtually non-existent; a few resigned shrugs and a roll of the eyes from his father and a sort of genuine maternal concern from his mother.
Unperturbed by his nearest and dearest’s lack of enthusiasm for his lofty ambitions, he stumbles from one opportunity to another, eventually by some quirk of fate, finding himself representing Great Britain’s skiing hopefuls.
Ultimately discouraged from this by Great Britain’s powers that be – the excellent Tim McInnery reviving memories here, to some extent at least, of his marvellous Captain Darling role from Blackadder 4 – and on discovering that Britain has no representation in the ski jump whatsoever, Eddie sets forth to become Britain’s fresh new hope in this most glamorous, not to mention dangerous of winter sports, much to the chagrin of his father and continued concern of his mother.
Predictably, no-one takes him seriously although he does get some bewildered, reluctant help from alcoholic ex ski jumper, Bronson Peary (Hugh Jackman).
A lesser man would have sneaked out of the back door, made his apologies, and taken the first plane home.
But not our Eddie.
Just how he came to end up representing his country at the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics and charming the pants off the world in the process, if you don’t already know, you’ll have to find out for yourself.
It’s balls-out in your face bleedin’ obvious stuff, it’s cheesy, it’s contrived, it’s cliched and then some, but I’ve got to admit… I loved it, even to the point of welling up on the odd occasion.
Pathetic? Yes, probably, but for pure entertainment, in spite of all of the film’s considerable flaws, and believe me they are considerable, Eddie the Eagle is a film that makes you just want to punch the air! A genuinely heart-warming frolic through the life of a man whose joi de vivre and never-say-die spirit (bordering on the delusional), should give hope and courage to everyone and anyone that ever dared to believe in the improbable.
A big old uplifting slice of feel-good pie.