Eddie the Eagle (2016)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Eddie the Eagle</strong> (2016)

(On Cable TV, November 2016) When true inspiring stories go through the screen-writing process, the result is nearly always something like Eddie the Eagle. Someone’s life reduced to a three-act formula, selectively manipulating history, creating characters and manufacturing Significant Moments so that audiences don’t have to contend with the messy reality. Yes, there was an “Eddie the Eagle” who, against most odds, competed in long-jump skiing during the Calgary Olympics. The rest is pretty much fiction … but entertaining fiction. As a not-particularly-gifted but determined young man, Eddie Edwards discovers ski jumping at a time when the British presence in the sport is non-existent. After gruelling training and qualification jumps, Eddie goes to the Olympics where his determination become far more remarkable than his performances. The meat of the film is in the training sequences, as a disgraced American ski jumper (Hugh Jackman, likable and effective in a wholly fiction role) takes Eddie (Taron Egerton, not bad as the less-than-glamorous hero) under his wing and makes a contender out of him. Eddie the Eagle is assembled, block-by-block, according to a common underdog sports-drama formula. It’s generally well done, with moments of comedy that make the film feel quite a bit fresher than it should be. It’s also a close look at an unusual sport, and among Eddie the Eagle’s biggest achievements are half a dozen ways to make the jumps look thrilling. While the result is disposable entertainment, it works well enough.

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