Eddie Edwards is an unusual Olympic hero. An amateur ski-jumper from Cheltenham, he came dead last at the 1988 Winter Games, but won the audience over with his wacko charm. However, this eager-to-please ‘biopic’ of Edwards couldn’t be more conventional if it tried. Director Dexter Fletcher turns every cheap trick in the book, from training montages to creaky ‘Carry On’ slapstick to – groan – a punch-the-air finale scored with Van Halen’s ‘Jump’. Imagine ‘Cool Runnings’ with Rodney from ‘Only Fools and Horses’ standing in for the entire Jamaican bobsled team and you’ve got the general idea.
Taron Egerton’s lead performance verges on bad taste, playing Edwards as a squinting, gurning social outcast fuelled by a crazed obsession to ‘have his moment’. The opportunity arises when he meets alcoholic ex-jumper Bronson Peary (Hugh Jackman), who takes this crazy kid under his wing.
Peary, though, is an entirely fictional creation. The film never admits it, but almost everything here has been invented for the screen. That leaves a bad taste: Edwards is still very much alive, and his story is bizarre enough without embellishment. ‘Eddie the Eagle’ may suffice for a brainless Friday night, but an honest account might’ve been a lot more memorable.