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Review: ‘Eddie the Eagle’ is fun, inspiring to watch

I’m not going to beat around the bush. I loved “Eddie the Eagle,” the new based-on-a-true-story movie starring Hugh Jackman and Taron Egerton.

Judging by the applause and cheers I heard during my preview screening last week, you probably will, too.

If you saw the 1988 Winter Olympics you might remember “Eddie the Eagle.” For the rest of us, Eddie Edwards (Egerton) is first introduced on screen as a small boy with a big dream — to not only go to the Olympics but be in the Olympics. As he ages, his earnest attempts to train for the games win him the affection of his adoring mother and the wrath of his disapproving father. Eddie, you see, has spent much of his childhood in a leg brace. He doesn’t let that stop him from trying, over and over again, to make it to the Olympics. First, he sets his sights on the Summer Olympics. Then he aims for the Winter Olympics. He finally settles on Olympic ski jumping because Great Britain had never sent a ski jumper to the Olympics before.

Despite a lack of training, funding or talent, Eddie eventually makes it to the premiere training camp for Olympic ski jumpers, but no one takes him seriously, including the training camp’s always drunk janitor, Bronson Peary (Jackman). After Eddie learns that Bronson was once one of the United State’s best ski jumpers, he begins a campaign to win Bronson as his coach. With only a dream and a prayer, the two underdogs set out to make Eddie’s dream come true.

One of the things that makes “Eddie the Eagle” such a great family movie is that it has a great message for all ages — that giving your personal best and not giving up can take you a long way in life. Eddie never stops believing in himself, no matter what, and in by doing so, he teaches viewers that the important thing is not to win competitions, but to simply take part in the things you love doing.

Egerton — best known for his lead role in last year’s “Kingsman: The Secret Service” — is hardly recognizable but entirely lovable as the very un-athletic athlete. Jackman plays his clichéd grumpy, cynical trainer role well, and it’s fun to watch him try to deter Eddie’s always-cheerful advances without success.

Parents who take their kids to see this movie have little cause for concern, but should probably be aware of a few things. There is one scene involving Bo Derek that leans toward being inappropriate for young audiences, and quite a few mild scenes involving scantily clad women and men. Kids might also be inspired to try some of the reckless stunts depicted in the movie, but overall, I’d judge it as being great for kids 10 and older (unless you're a super conservative parent, then I'd definitely adhere to the PG-13 rating).

“Eddie the Eagle” will make you laugh, but it will also make you feel a range of emotions. It’s an empowering, feel-good movie that most critics will probably dismiss as too crowd pleasing or too quirky, but I don’t care.

Sure, “Eddie the Eagle” might be full of clichés and I always question the accuracy of “based on a true story” movies, but this one is simply delightful to watch. It also has a great message, so that makes it a winner in my book.

“Eddie the Eagle” is rated PG-13 for some suggestive material, partial nudity and smoking. It opens in theaters Feb. 26 nationwide.