People who saw the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary will remember Michael Edwards – aka Eddie The Eagle. A downhill skier who failed to qualify for the Great Britain team four years before, he decided to realise his dream of competing at the Olympics by entering as a ski jumper, despite being hugely inexperienced and not actually very good at it.
Following Eddie (a sweet Egerton) from his early attempts at sports, watched by his sceptical father (Allen), the story takes our unlikely hero to the training slopes of Germany, where he completes a 15 metre jump but injures himself on his first attempt at a 40 metre hill. Despite everyone – including the other jumpers, who have been training since they were kids – telling him to quit, courageous Eddie carries on, enlisting the reluctant help of gruff, booze-swilling trainer Bronson Peary (Jackman, likeably grumpy) to realise his dream of being an Olympic competitor.
This warm and affectionate telling of Eddie’s story uses some dramatic licence – Peary is fictional, for starters – but it just adds to the charm of this feel-good family movie. You’ll cheer as Eddie tries the steeper and steeper jumps, and thanks to the point-of-view camera angles, gulp when you realise just how high and dangerous each jump is. While some newspapers at the time portrayed Eddie as something of a national joke, here he’s celebrated for his unique style, and his refusal to give up what is a pretty perilous sport.
Of course, inspirational sports movie clichés abound and the film is packed with cute and sentimental moments that may cause more cynical members of the audience to roll their eyes. But for everyone else it’s a wonderfully British, funny, moving and lovely movie for all the family that’s well worth cheering for.
Is Eddie The Eagle suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
There is one brief scene in which Eddie’s coach compares jumping to sex, mentioning foreplay and release and using facial expressions but it is likely younger children will miss the references.