If you want a wholesome, feel-good family film to instil the value of resilience in the next generation, Eddie the Eagle perfectly fits the bill.
Michael "Eddie" Edwards is an unlikely hero. Having spent a year of his childhood in hospital with "dodgy knees" and suffering poor vision, he seems unpromising material for an Olympic sportsman, but this is the ambition he has absorbed from the book he read in his hospital bed. Eddie the Eagle is a lovely old-fashioned film, in the style of the Seventies in which it begins: a straightforward but humorous adaptation of the story of how dogged determination led him, against all odds, to fulfil his ambition of competing in the Winter Olympics.
Taron Egerton is endearing and engaging as Eddie, deftly treading a fine ambiguous line between portraying him as simply shrugging off all the put-downs of supercilious ski champions or being simple-mindedly oblivious to them. Either way, his persistence pays off, and he earns the respect of his initially reluctant coach, played powerfully by Hugh Jackman as a character reminiscent of his earlier Wolverine role: darkly brooding but with a strong regenerative ability.
Some have criticised this as "corny", like an old Disney family movie, but it certainly captivated the matinee audience at the Phoenix, and I'd prefer to describe it as nostalgic. The storytelling is superb, moving at a good pace, helped along by a thumping-good soundtrack derived from the music of the era. The screenplay was tautly constructed, there were moments of protracted edge-of-seat tension, moments of hilarity, and there was some breathtakingly beautiful cinematography. Woven into the story were themes of the true Olympian spirit, of the motivational power of proving people wrong, of perseverance. The film ends on a glorious high, with Eddie having achieved his goal, beloved by the British press and the British public.
The take-home message was summed up by a little girl leaving the cinema: "It made me feel like I could do anything."