'Eddie The Eagle’ [Blu-ray+DVD+DigitalHD]
(Taron Egerton, Hugh Jackman, Christopher Walken, et al / Blu-ray+DVD+Digital HD / PG-13 / 2016 / 20th Century Fox)
Overview: Inspired by true events, Eddie the Eagle is a feel-good story about Michael "Eddie" Edwards (Taron Egerton), an unlikely but courageous British ski-jumper who never stopped believing in himself - even as an entire nation was counting him out.
DVD Verdict: The British love a plucky loser. ‘Eddie the Eagle’ tells the astonishing but true story of everyman plasterer Eddie Edwards who qualified for, and then competed in, the Calgary Olympics in 1988 (probably most famous for those other plucky losers – the Jamaican bobsleigh team of Disney's "Cool Runnings" fame). I have absolutely no idea how the traditionally more success-driven and competitive American audience will see it, but the packed English showing I attended all clearly loved this film as a feel-good classic.
The film starts with Eddie's childhood, struggling out of leg braces to try to pursue his Olympic dream with no success whatsoever. (Excellent performances here by brothers Tom and Jack Costello who set-up the tone for the film). His battle is not just against his lack of skill: whilst his mother (Jo Hartley) is quietly supportive, his father Terry (Keith Allen) is – not unreasonably it must be said – hugely frustrated at his son's fanciful ideas, wanting him to follow in the family plastering tradition with the same zeal. (The gulf in ambition is vast – Eddie: "Didn't you have a dream when you were younger Dad?"; Terry: "Yes, plastering!")
Eventually Eddie finds a sport he is half decent in (by British standards!): downhill skiing, but is thwarted in following his Olympic dreams by smarmy and sneering Olympic selector Dustin Target, played by Tim McInnerny (from "Black Adder" and "Notting Hill"… someone who has rather cornered the market on 'smarmy and sneering'). It is then that he exploits ancient rules in the UK Olympic playbook to try to qualify in the discipline of ski-jumping: something no one has done since the 1920's. Linking up in Austria with an alcohol-infused coach and ex- jumper Bronson Peary (Hugh Jackman), Eddie faces the terrors of the 40m and then 70m jumps to try to learn the sport (16 years too late).
This film has been long in gestation, with both Steve Coogan and Rupert Grint originally earmarked for the role. But Matthew Vaughn's involvement in the current project probably contributed to Taron Egerton getting the job following their work together on last year's "Kingsman". And a great choice he is too. Almost unrecognizable from the sharp- suited Eggsy in "Kingsman" and gangster-sidekick Teddy in "Legend", Egerton switches effortlessly between clueless goofball and steely determined sportsman.
The film's emotional heart though is with Hugh Jackman's side-story, battling with drink after throwing his own chance away with US-coach Warren Sharp (a nice cameo by Christopher Walken). Although going a little OTT at times (we see for example that he is no Meg Ryan!), Jackman provides a solid acting foundation that the rest of the cast can play off.
Rounding out the cast are solid performances from Jo Hartley ("This is England") as Eddie's Mum, Mark Benton ("Waterloo Road") as a BOA official, Rune Temte as a bear of a Norwegian coach and the ever-warming Jim Broadbent as a BBC commentator. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
Let The Games Begin: Soaring with Eddie The Eagle
All Or Nothing: The Hero’s Heart
An Unlikely Friendship: Eddie & Peary
Attitude Is Altitude: Filming The Ski Jumps