Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Eddie the Eagle

(UK, USA, Germany, 2016)

If you are as old as me, you will probably remember Michael “Eddie the Eagle” Edwards. It was 1988 and I was in Toronto for the making of Millennium. Out there on the prairie, in Calgary, the Winter Olympics were happening. I am an Olympics junkie, and watched as much of them as I could. Eddie was an unlikely star. Great Britain had not had a ski jumper since about 1929, so he took advantage of the fact that the rules of eligibility had not changed since then, and he didn’t need to jump all that far to become the entire UK Ski Jumping team. (The movie shows great resistance from the nobs of the British Olympic Committee, but I don’t know if that is true. In fact, though this is a “true story,” Eddie himself said it was about 90% fiction.) In real life Eddie is not the total dork we see here. He was a good skier, and a pretty good all-around athlete. But it is crystal clear that he needed a huge set of balls to come sliding down the 90-meter jump—for the first time!—in Calgary. He landed it, and thus came in dead last. But he competed! That is what people loved about him.

They say that winning isn’t the most important thing, competing is more important. Sure. What bullshit! It is all about winning, and yet every year small and/or poor countries field a team of athletes who don’t have the faintest chance of winning anything. And yet they are proud to represent their countries. Eddie embodied that, and the crowds loved him. This is a sweet little movie, starring Taron Egerton, who I have never heard of. He even manages to look a lot like Eddie, with his out-thrust jaw. Backing him up is Hugh Jackman as his fictitious American coach. (In truth, Eddie never had a coach.) Christopher Walken makes a brief appearance, about a day’s work, I would think. The skiing scenes were all shot in Germany, and they really put you on those slopes. Not for the faint of heart.