Underdog hero of the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics, British ski jumper Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards (Taron Egerton) remains an endearing figure.
Giving Eddie’s story a perky fictional gloss, actor-turned-director Dexter Fletcher charts the Cheltenham plasterer’s journey from sports-mad but clumsy kid to unlikely Olympic contender, seizing opportunities for slapstick comedy along the way.
Egerton proves a perfect fit for Eddie’s ski boots, while Hugh Jackman is ideally cast as his (fictional) gruff coach, a wayward former ski jumping star reduced to working as a snow plough driver at the German centre where Eddie goes to train.
The British sporting establishment (typified by a snooty Tim McInnerny) does its best to hinder Eddie’s progress but, buoyed up by a jaunty soundtrack of 1980s pop (from Howard Jones and Nick Kershaw to, inevitably, Van Halen’s Jump), our plucky hero finally fulfils his dream of becoming an Olympian.
As you might expect, Eddie’s exploits are mostly played for laughs, but the moments when he launches himself down the take-off ramp and into space are truly heart-grabbing, reminding us of the very real grit and guts it took for Eddie to make his mark as a hapless loser.