Everybody’s seen at least one of those inspirational sports films at some point in their lives. You know, the one where the plucky underdog overcomes seemingly insurmountable odds to win it all in the end. But, have you seen a sports film where a guy with a West Country accent tries to succeed and just fails and that’s that?
What, you say? That sounds ridiculous? No-one would make that? Allow me to introduce you to Eddie the Eagle, from the creator of two of the most ridiculous yet eminently successful films of the last few years – Matthew Vaughn. It seems pertinent to mention that Vaughn is only involved as a producer here – the film is directed by Dexter Fletcher, whose debut film Wild Bill received critical acclaim, despite being somewhat unknown. The film stars one of the many promising and talented young British actors currently working – Taron Egerton (Kingsman: The Secret Service, Legend) – alongside Hugh Jackman and Christopher Walken. Together they play the various parts of struggling underdog, troubled mentor, and Christopher Walken, as the film shows one man’s journey towards achieving his dream of competing in the Winter Olympic Games.
Along with its main focus as a sports film, Eddie the Eagle is also undoubtedly a comedy (you just have to watch the trailer for, like, fifteen seconds to work that one out). It seems to have avoided being one of those comedies marketed by just showing everyone the funny bits, it is clear, instead, that this is a film whose very nature lends itself to comedy. This would also mark Egerton’s first properly comedic role, though his performance in Legend (and to some extent Kingsman as well) would certainly suggest that he will be able to rise to the occasion as the film’s lead.
At first glance, this film might appear to be no different to any other triumphant sports film – but it is really quite far from them. Where others focus entirely on the goal, on the success that awaits their protagonists at the end of the film, Eddie the Eagle takes a famously unsuccessful athlete, and uses his story to make a different point. That it isn’t the end that counts, but the journey there. A journey that, here, is filled with jokes and bumbling, awkward comedy (that is, British comedy), but that is ultimately grounded in heart and good-nature. When Eddie the Eagle comes out at the beginning of April, it is sure to be one of the better British films of the year, and it is one that you should most definitely go and see.
Eddie the Eagle (2016), directed by Dexter Fletcher, is due to be released by Lionsgate on 1st April. Certificate TBC.