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Film review: Eddie the Eagle – no-hope Olympic ski jumper receives campy biopic treatment

Heavily fictionalised British film tells of perseverance in a cliched underdog story

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 30 March, 2016, 1:30pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 30 March, 2016, 1:30pm

3/5 stars

Occasionally heartwarming, often irritating, and sometimes downright pathetic, this British film tells the story of Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards, the famed UK Olympic ski jumper of the 1980s. While this very conventional movie suffers from clumsy direction and campy performances that hail from the Carry On Camping school of acting, some true-Brit underdog charm compensates in part for all the clichés.

The heavily fictionalised story begins with the young Edwards dreaming of becoming an Olympian, a desire that didn’t go down well in Britain in the 1970s. After a failed attempt to join the British skiing team, Edwards (Welsh actor Taron Egerton) abandons his job as a plasterer to focus on representing Britain at ski-jumping – an attainable goal, as no one else wants the job.

Eddie the Eagle, ordinary-guy Olympian, brought back to life in biopic

Moving to Germany to train, Edwards is aided by former American ski star Bronson Pierce (Hugh Jackman, playing a completely fictional character), who’s now a drunk. But can he beat all the funny foreigners in the competition?

The British do underdog stories well, and the good bits come from Edwards’ battles with a society that would prefer him to give up on his Olympic dream and remain a plasterer. Some digs at the British class system are relevant, although very mild – Edwards is initially rejected from the ski team because he didn’t go to a posh school.

Films are often criticised for being too slick, but Eddie the Eagle suffers because it isn’t slick enough. It’s far too easy to spot the nuts and bolts that hold it together, and these distract from an otherwise pleasant, if not entirely truthful, tale of perseverance.

Eddie the Eagle opens on March 31

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