Sports films are a fairly predictable assortment of moving parts. You have your hero — more often than not a gifted player burdened by circumstance — and your trainer, a once-glorious athlete grappling with the loss of their glory days (usually by crawling into a bottle), who finds himself consumed with the need to help the hero soar to victory.
Like Race, which is also currently in theaters, Eddie the Eagle tells the story of an athlete who overcame great odds to make it to the Olympics. Unlike Race, which is about Jesse Owens, an athlete so fabulously gifted that he broke records while recovering from an injury, Eddie the Eagle follows a British skier of dubious talent who essentially makes it to the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary on a technicality — and barely qualifies to do even that.
Michael “Eddie the Eagle” Edwards (Taron Egerton), a young man with big dreams and unnecessarily large glasses (thank you, 1980s fashion gods), dreamed of going to the Olympics since he was a little boy with dodgy knees. While doctors were able to fix the knees, they were not able to imbue him with Olympic-level talent. However, Eddie does become adept enough at skiing to train with a team of athletes who aim to qualify for the Olympics, but his execution is still too awkward to actually attend the trials with his comrades.
This does not stop Eddie, who discovers, Cool Runnings style, that he may be able to attend the Olympics via a loophole; while England may be the land of Shakespeare and Milton, it is not a fertile breeding ground for Olympic ski jumpers. Before Eddie, Great Britain had not sent a ski jumper to the Olympics since 1929. Determined to represent his country, Eddie scuttles off to Germany to teach himself how to ski jump, as you do. There, he meets Bronson Peary (Hugh Jackman), a onetime Olympic ski jumper who is now the most virile, healthy-looking alcoholic you’ve ever seen in your life. What follows is a pleasant, uplifting, paint-by-numbers underdog story. And while every piece is in place — the climactic final competition, the trainer with irreverent methods, the doggedly determined hero — there is nothing about the film that jumps out as being particularly unique.