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NEWBIES: If this is your first trip here (welcome!), here’s the QT on what these reviews are.
THIS WEEK: The “based on a true story” tale of Michael “Eddy” Edwards, Britain’s record-breaking and first Olympic ski jumper from the 1988 Calgary Olympics, with Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) added to the tale as a coach. Imagine the stereotypical, bespectacled comics fan becoming an Olympian and you have the story.
- Nice bit of acting by Taron “Kingsman: Secret Service” Egerton as the title guy. I didn’t recognize him until I looked it up on imdb.com. He gets into the role completely. Even though there are times he comes off like an SNL character, I gather from articles I’ve read that he’s exactly like the real guy, if not actually more subdued and serious. (The real Eddie snorts when he laughs and makes more jokes about himself.)
- Some genuine guffaws and giggles. Both from the dialog and physical gags.
- Hugh Jackman does the down-and-out-drinker-but-has-a-heart-of-gold American not much different from roles in REEL STEEL and the Wolvie/X-Men films (falling somewhere in between). Even though he’s supposed to play a former ski jumper, he still has his Wolverine guns; guessing he did this just before or after bulking up for X-MEN: AGE OF APOCALYPSE. Ladies and gay guys will be happy.
- Feel-good story. The Mom is supportive, the Dad is dickish (but caring), the UK Olympic Committee are total a-holes and his fellow skiers and even teammates are jerks too. He’s a lousy athlete but pretty much spends his life trying to prove everyone wrong and who can’t root for that?
- You already know the happy outcome; but the story is the struggle and the joy is in the journey. There’s enough to entertain. Beginning is especially adorable.
- Christopher Walken has a couple walk-ons as an old coach. No, he’s not his usual entertaining mobster, but any Walken is welcome.
- Nice photography for the jumping scenes and scenery for the wide shots. (Mountains of Germany, Austria and Calgary, though it was supposedly shot in Germany, England and Austria.) Film-boy Pascale says the editing/build up on the climactic jump sequence was unique and brilliantly done. I liked it so I’ll take his worthless word for it.
- Since the true tale is famous (and is told thru the trailer), there’s not as much suspense as with something made up. (But fer guys like me who had better things to do in 1988 than watch the stupid Olympics, a lot of it was new.)
- With teammates like his, who needs rivals? The Flying Fin acts like a jerk too, initially. I wish the Jackman had punched ‘em all out. Considering the way he’s built, his lack of doing so didn’t seem too believable.
- Auto accuracy alert: Jackman says he’s working on a ’72 Trans Am but it’s clearly a ’79 or ’80…Come on, the ’72s had single headlights plus a completely different body style, hood and decals, fer cryin’ out loud! (They weren’t even available in yellow. Plus we don’t even get to see it finished.)
- Speaking of ladies and gay guys, there’s a steamroom scene with sweaty nekkid skiers strategically covered but not completely. (Thankfully it’s both funny and brief for us straights.)
- The old-but-sexy German broad that runs the pub makes an offer but we don’t get to see any of the merch. (I know it ain’t that type o’ movie, but a guy can hope!)
- “Based On A True Story” maybe, but about 10-15% of the tale is fact, according to the real Eddie. Jackman’s whole character was made up. From the couple historical articles I read, there were quite a few fascinating and funny things not included. (F’r instance, when he arrived at the airport, his suitcase opened up on the luggage carousel and he had to jump on it to chase it down; he endured more due to lack of money, taking odd jobs and even garbage-grabbed for food and once slept on the floor of a Finnish mental hospital. Fans took up a collection to help with finances. The film focuses more on his struggles on the slopes.)
Don’t listen to cynical critics or expect more than the trailer promises: a mostly made-up, superficial feel-good story about a lovable loser fighting against the odds who makes good and achieves some worldwide fame. It’s not as dramatic as the first ROCKY and it’s not as absurdly funny as THE LONGEST YARD, but it’s not supposed to be. With all the violence and gore and depressing negativity of many current flicks, this is a nice antidote and bit of fun you can see with a date. Or even the kids, if they’re 12 or older (a couple “s” words and a funny bit about sex).
P.S. Another loser and lousy athlete is Pascale, who thankfully draws a lot better than he skis. In fact, he does some pretty cool commissions of anything you’d like. Just tell Craig here!