*NEW* EDDIE THE EAGLE REVIEW *NEW*

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Easy going feel good fun.

The story of Eddie Edwards (Taron Egerton), the notoriously tenacious British underdog ski jumper who charmed the world at the 1988 Winter Olympics.

“Eddie, you are NOT an athlete!”

I should have seen this coming from the producers of Kingsman: The Secret Service.

The silly opening got things going with a resilient young Eddie determined to achieve his dreams of reaching the Olympics. You had to admire the little lad for trying to do every known sport to man and failing terribly. Tumbling over obstacles, smacking himself in the face with shot puts, launching javelins through his dad’s window.

I was a little worried (at first) that Taron Egerton’s impression would make Eddie the Eagle look a bit simple. Especially with all the face pulling. BUT it wasn’t long before the bumbling oaf soon won me over. Another impressive turn from the Kingsman star. Definitely one to watch for the future.

I loved the 70/80s soundtrack. Belting some absolute tunes. BUT I didn’t love it as much as the supporting cast attached to this!

“And where do you think you’re going? I’m off to the Olympics Mum!”

Jo Hartley (This is England) was brilliant as Eddie’s mum. Forever supporting the poor lad and giving him belief when everybody else told him to give up (Including his dad!). Keith Allen was hilarious as Eddie’s exasperated father. Tired of watching him fluff up and not taking to the family trade of plastering.

Tim McInnerny (Blackadder) played the dastardly Dustin Target with aplomb. The snobby head official of the British Winter Olympics Commission who went out of his way to stop Eddie entering. Raising the bar that much higher every time he achieved the impossible.

The panning and landscape shots of the ski slopes gave me vertigo watching! Things did get a little repetitive as we watched Eddie crash and burn again and again. There was only so many times I could wince at Egerton’s CGI’d body fumbling and bumbling down the hill.

BUT you were still rooting for the clutz as he faced constant criticism. He was snubbed and ridiculed by the competing Norwegian Winter Olympic team. Even the prolific Finnish winter skier Matti Nykanen refused to give the Eagle an autograph.

However, once Hugh Jackman’s drunken and disgruntled former Olympian Bronson Peary came into the fold, I was sold. Egerton and Jackman were a fantastic duo. They worked really well together.

Jackman was a nutter. His OTT cheesy ski jump introduction did take the biscuit. BUT his crazy motivational speeches had me in stitches. I won’t think of Bo Derek in the same way. That’s all I’m saying.

The middle act did drag in parts as we had to wait for the reluctant drunk to fight Edwards’ bumbling charm and offer his services. Even if we’ve seen the underdog spiel time and time again (With the endless training montages), I still enjoyed watching this dysfunctional duo try and do the impossible.

I could feel myself getting engaged into the story as he overcame every obstacle that was thrown at him. I didn’t realise some of the facts and records that Eddie actually broke. The first British ski jumper since 1929?! He broke records just by qualifying! Unbelievable. I felt a little bad after only really remembering him as a novelty act and a bit of joke.

It probably didn’t help that I saw him recently in that horrific Olympic show Splash! on ITV just before watching this film. Writers Sean Macaulay and Simon Kelton did bring that up as tempers flared between Peary and Edwards with that ever-increasing bar raising that much higher.

BUT the Eagle really didn’t care because he set out to achieve what he wanted. To become an Olympian. He came last in everything and yet kept breaking records for Britain. Mental!

The finale was cheesy BUT heartwarming and uplifting. The story may have been exaggerated BUT despite all its silly moments, this fun little biopic delivered one of the best messages going: “Don’t give up. If you have believe and determination, anything is possible and don’t sell yourself short”.

It wasn’t without its imperfections. The pace meandered along and Christopher Walken was wasted in his minute cameo BUT this was a real feelgood film and with a brilliant cast and some good humour, I think this one is worth your time.

3.5/5

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GET SANTA REVIEW

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Get on it!

Jim Broadbent dons the red suit and white beard and leads a sterling British cast in this fun (but flawed) Christmas cracker.

Writer/director Christopher Smith has taken the same old Santa spiel and re-worked it into something quite different and entertaining.

So what’s it all about? (Besides the obvious implications of the title) A father (Rafe Spall) and son (Kit Connor) team up to save Christmas after discovering Santa Claus (Broadbent) sleeping in their garage and on the run from the police.

A breath of fresh air! I was surprised at how little this film was marketed at the cinemas. It’s not without it’s imperfections but I can certainly commend it’s originality. Execution on the other hand? Ho, ho, ho, here we go.

Broadbent brings St Nick to life brilliantly and delivered the charm by the stocking full. He was everything I expected. Funny, endearing and entertaining. It always helps in these family holiday films to have a likeable cast.

Connor (An impressive debut from the little chap) and Spall (X + Y) were fantastic together. They played the parts well and made the father/son dynamic work.

Spall’s dead pan delivery certainly made for some cracking one liners. His reaction when Tom tells him he’s found SC in the garage; “Are you in the garage with a man? Pass the phone to your mum”. Priceless.

The prison angle was a fresh take. Recently released from prison, Steve is desperate to be a good dad. Little does he know that his prison ties will be more important than ever. His quest for redemption certainly had a little more substance to the usual Christmas father/son squabbles.

The idea of SC incarcerated was a perfect platform for some fun gags. I smiled a lot more than I expected and was surprised at the stars that popped up in this.

Matt King (Super Hands from Peep Show) featured as a miserable and unsatisfied prison guard. To be honest, his character was nowhere near as good as I hoped. If anything, he was a little flat. Even the OTT comical punch up between him and Warwick Davis (Harry Potter) left little to be desired.

Davis, on the other hand, was quite good. Of course, lazy elf gags galore were thrown at the poor chap but his retorts and sarcastic jibes made up for it.

And what was Combo from This is England doing in this?! Stephen Graham’s turn as The Barber was an unexpected delight. Good to see he can still have a laugh and that he’s not too big for the small Brit pics. His tough guy training sesh with Broadbent was almost worth the ticket alone.

I was in stitches watching ol’ SC strutting around the gaff with corn locks. Throw in a cheeky slow mo tough guy montage to a bit of Ice Cube for good measure? Yes please.

Joanna Scanlan (Stella) played the delightfully unpleasant parole officer with aplomb. BUT apart from stomping about and carrying a toad in tow (You read that right), she didn’t really do much else.

Jodie Whittaker (Broadchurch) was wasted in her role. Apart from a few awkward exchanges (and rightly so) between her character and Steve, she didn’t really pop back up until the final moments.

The reindeer were quite funny for the little ‘uns. Especially the deceptive Dasher (who manages to break into vans without explanation). He can’t talk but he can communicate. And of course being a children’s movie, he does so by farting. That’s right. Communicating through farts (Come on, we’re better than that).

Although Spall trying to remain serious as the furry critters trumped away was quite funny.

Ewen Bremner (Trainspotting) was really irritating as the over-enthusiastic and deluded PC Finkerton. He did my nut in.

Unfortunately, for every clever little prison gag, there were a dozen recycled ones. BUT there was still fun to be had. A cheeky Shawshank Redemption reference shouldn’t have worked but it got a little nod from me.

For the little ‘uns, you have Big Nick firing a tommy gun of reindeer droppings in a high speed police chase.

The animation was a little cartoony for me. Especially in the letter tunnel when Steve and Tom are transported to Lapland. BUT their sleigh ride was brilliantly captured. Santa’s gadgets were quite cool. His slinky/chimney expander was a nifty little trinket.

I know it’s a Christmas film BUT it skimmed through a number of plot holes. Look, I’m prepared to except all the rubbish about SC and the reindeer flight paths (It’s a kids film after all) BUT breaking out of secure prisons so flippantly? Come on now.

It wrapped things up a little too quickly. For a moment, I wondered if Smith was going to play on the “Is he/isn’t he SC?” spiel a little more as Steve fears that he’s helping a chap who is nothing more than a petty criminal.

I loved its originality but was a little disappointed in its execution as it raced to its shamefully predictable, corny and rushed finale.

BUT I had a lot more fun than I expected and it wasn’t the worst way to kill 90 minutes.

2.5/5.