Francesca Rudkin is an entertainment reviewer for NZ Herald.

Movie review: Eddie the Eagle

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Eddie the Eagle with Taron Edgerton and Hugh Jackman.
Eddie the Eagle with Taron Edgerton and Hugh Jackman.

British ski jumping Olympian Michael Edwards maintains little of the material is factual in this comedic biopic about his heartwarming rise to fame.

However, it didn't stop the flying Brit from shedding a tear before the credits rolled. He won't be alone.

British ski jumper Eddie 'The Eagle' Edwards poses as he arrives for a special screening of 'Eddie The Eagle' in Munich, Germany. Photo / AP
British ski jumper Eddie 'The Eagle' Edwards poses as he arrives for a special screening of 'Eddie The Eagle' in Munich, Germany. Photo / AP

Edwards always wanted to go to the Olympics; a desire sparked more by a book about the Olympics than any natural athletic ability.

Unable to find a sport he could master for the Summer Olympics, he set his sights on the Winter version and becoming eligible for Britain's Olympic Skiing Team.

From a working class background and without social graces, Edwards was rejected by the snooty sporting establishment, and there was outrage from the British Olympic Committee when, partly due to rules unchanged for 52 years, he managed to qualify as Britain's first ever ski jumper for the 1988 Calgary Olympics.

It's hardly a spoiler alert to say that this isn't a story about an athlete overcoming adversity to win gold. Instead it's the story of a man who defied his father, fellow competitors, the establishment and a nation, to follow his dream.

Taron Egerton (Kingsman: The Secret Service) plays Edwards and focuses on capturing Eddie's distinctive characteristics, such as his jaw jutting chin and heavy blinking. It's not inaccurate, but it does give the impression he's overacting, as opposed to just taking things a bit too literally, and gets a little infuriating.

Edwards convinces disgraced American ski jumper Bronson Peary (Hugh Jackman) to train him, and Jackman's charisma and ease on screen work to lift the story.

That the real Edwards wasn't taught to jump in Europe by washed-up alcoholic Perry is almost a moot point, this dramatic license creates a relationship between two outsiders that is the heart of the story.

The other star is the sport of ski jumping itself, with director Dexter Fletcher (Sunshine on Leith) capturing the very real thrill and danger of this remarkable and graceful sport.

There's a moment when Edwards is preparing to jump the 90m ramp for the first time, in front of the world at the Olympics, when the reality of how terrifying this sport is hits you - there's a chance he won't survive.

Eddie "the Eagle" from the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics. Photo / Reuters
Eddie "the Eagle" from the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics. Photo / Reuters

For those who remember Eddie's ridiculous but heroic attempt to put British ski jumping on the map, this is a nostalgic watch.

For the rest, Eddie the Eagle is a refreshing antithesis to modern day sport and those who go to any length to win; a simple and effective story about the joy and reward of participation.

It may be predictable, but there's comfort in knowing what you're going to get; a feelgood film that will put a smile on your face.

Review: Eddie the Eagle

Cast: Taron Egerton, Hugh Jackman
Director: Dexter Fletcher
Running Time: 106 mins
Rating: PG (Coarse language, sexual references)
Verdict: Pleasant, feelgood comedy.

- TimeOut

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