“Eddie the Eagle” is a good-natured film about the British Olympian Eddie Edwards, but it would be better if it respected its audience’s ability to recognize an underdog story.
The film piles on the clichés and avoids anything resembling subtlety as it tells a heavily fictionalized version of Mr. Edwards’s tale, which culminated with his improbable appearance as a ski jumper at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Alberta. Taron Egerton squints his way through the role of Eddie (whose eyesight was poor), and Hugh Jackman plays a fictional coach who takes him under his wing after he shows up at a training center for ski jumpers in Germany.
Although Mr. Edwards’s last-place finishes in Calgary made him something of a sensation, a symbol of do-it-yourself persistence, this film doesn’t seem to trust the inherent likability of his story. The director, Dexter Fletcher, and the writers, Sean Macaulay and Simon Kelton, load it up with tropes that actually make it less endearing.
Mr. Jackman’s character can’t be just a coach; he has to be a tired archetype: a coach who was once a top athlete but flamed out and turned to alcohol. Practically everyone Eddie encounters — other jumpers in training, Britain’s Olympic committee, his teammates in Calgary — has to be depicted as throwing obstacles in his way so that we really, really understand that he’s an underdog. And so on.
The film makes a winking reference to the Jamaican bobsled team whose efforts in the same Olympic Games were the subject of the 1993 hit “Cool Runnings.” This film follows the same template as that one, which should have given it license to be more restrained, since the path has already been blazed. Instead, it overstates everything.
“Eddie the Eagle” is rated PG-13 (Parents strongly cautioned) for some rude humor.