Review: ‘Eddie the Eagle’ never achieves flight

Adam Graham
The Detroit News

With his oversized glasses, goofy grin and total lack of athletic grace, Eddie Edwards doesn’t seem like an Olympian. An IT guy, maybe, but not an Olympian.

But that’s what made the story of Eddie “The Eagle” so captivating in the 1988 Winter Olympic Games, and that’s the driving force of “Eddie the Eagle,” which celebrates — and perhaps oversells — Edwards’ life story.

Taron Egerton, very suave in last year’s “Kingsmen: The Secret Service,” does a 180-degree turn to become the clumsy title character. Here he’s all facial tics and eccentricities, which is true to Edwards, but distracting to the story’s telling.

Edwards dreams from an early age of competing in the Olympics despite his father’s — and everyone else’s — insistence that he has no business being an athlete.

That only fuels his fire, and he takes on ski jumping when he realizes the lack of competition from his fellow countrymen all but guarantees him a trip to the Olympics.

Eventually, he comes under the tutelage of Bronson Peary (Hugh Jackman), a former ski jumper turned washed-up drunk who sees a piece of himself in Edwards.

“Eddie the Eagle” works overtime to peddle Edwards’ underdog story. In the first 10 minutes alone, two characters tell him he will never succeed in sports.

He never did achieve gold, or even a medal, but he became a fleeting media sensation, which, in the movie’s eyes, is just as good.

Though it aims for heroism, Edwards’ story doesn’t have a dramatic enough arc to be truly inspirational. It’s not about winning, it’s an ode to participation, which isn’t enough for it to get off the ground.

‘Eddie the Eagle’


Rated PG-13 for some suggestive material, partial nudity and smoking

Running time: 105 minutes