Chock-full of cliches... and charm

Taron Egerton (far left) as unlikely ski jumping Olympian Michael “Eddie” Edwards has you rooting for him despite his lack of talent, and Hugh Jackman plays his straight-talking coach.
Taron Egerton (far left) as unlikely ski jumping Olympian Michael “Eddie” Edwards has you rooting for him despite his lack of talent, and Hugh Jackman plays his straight-talking coach.PHOTO: TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX

REVIEW / SPORTS DRAMA

EDDIE THE EAGLE

106 minutes/Opens tomorrow/3/5 stars

The story: Michael "Eddie" Edwards (Taron Egerton) has little talent for sport, but dreams of becoming an Olympian. He eventually makes it to the 1988 Games and represents Britain as its first Olympic ski jumper, but not without first suffering a lot along the way. Based on true events.

In a season when cinema screens are dominated by caped crusaders and men of steel, this movie celebrates a man who was adored by the public for also putting on Lycra - although he was terrible at his chosen duty.

Michael "Eddie" Edwards had famously placed last at the 1988 Olympics' ski jumping competition, but his perseverance to make it to the Games made him a hero anyway.

Admittedly, everything about this film is predictable, never passing on the chance to repeat the cliches of other feel-good, underdog sports dramas such as Glory Road (2006) and Rudy (1993), including the requisite training montage and the pep talk from the coach (Australian star Hugh Jackman playing the fictional American ski coach Bronson Peary created for the movie).

Director Dexter Fletcher (Sunshine On Leith, 2013) knows what works and milks it, rather unapologetically.

His film rides almost entirely on the charm and amiable sweetness of Edwards, who is played to perfection by an unrecognisably dorky Egerton, of Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014) fame.

It is easy to root for him despite all of his silliness and complete lack of talent in his chosen sport.

The actor's chemistry with Jackman as the straight-talking Peary is also moving and believable, although their relationship is hardly the focus here.

All eyes are on Edwards alone, who will make even the most cynical viewer nervous with every daredevil-like attempt at the ski jump.

Is it his naivete or courage that pushes him to keep trying, even when he busts his lip and breaks his jaw?

By the time he hoists himself up for that final 90m jump, you cannot help but wish him to soar.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 30, 2016, with the headline 'Chock-full of cliches... and charm'. Print Edition | Subscribe