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Eagle uses tried and true formula

“Eddie the Eagle” is definitely another tried-and-true inspirational story that we’ve seen a million times over. There are hardly any surprises or mysteries about what happens to our hero, but for the most part, we’re still willing to go along for the ride to find some inspiration of our own.

The movie is based on the true story of Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards (Taron Egerton), a British ski jumper whose only dream in life was to make it to the Olympics. In the film, he’s not taken seriously by anyone, including his own family — particularly his father — and everyone around him shames him with rejection and ridicule. Nevertheless, Eddie’s optimism and perseverance continue to thrive in the face of insurmountable odds and all sorts of setbacks.

When he arrives in Germany to try out for the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Alberta, he meets an unlikely ally in a disgraced former Olympic athlete turned snowplow driver Bronson Peary (Hugh Jackman). Eddie wants Bronson to train him for the event despite Bronson feeling the same way as everyone else about Eddie’s chances.

We get the standard training montages and fortune-cookie sentiments throughout. But it’s also interesting how Bronson offers Eddie some advice on how to lean forward when making big jumps; it’s something related to Eddie’s favorite actress, Bo Derek. This scene offers by far the biggest laugh in the entire movie.

You could argue that “Eddie the Eagle” is basically “Rocky” or “Rudy” on ice — and you’d be right. What makes the movie work is mostly the chemistry between Egerton and Jackman, as well as Eddie’s undeniable spirit. We root for him. We cringe for him. We relish in every victory. We look in disbelief at every loss.

Granted, this movie has nothing to say that other inspirational sports movies haven’t already said. But it kept me invested for most of its running time, and I laughed at a lot of it as well as smiled at the predictable conclusion.

“Eddie the Eagle” is a textbook example of how much a good inspirational true story can also be a guaranteed crowd-pleaser.

Grade: B
(Rated PG-13 for suggestive material, partial nudity, and smoking.)

Hall is a syndicated columnist in South Georgia.

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