’10 Cloverfield Lane’ Review

Expectations are a weird thing, aren’t they? In a day-and-age where we feel entitled to know absolutely everything before we really know anything at all, it’s really hard these days for Hollywood to stay ahead of the game in any way, shape or form. And so, much like the first Cloverfield film eight years ago (?!), the announcement of 10 Cloverfield Lane was as much of a surprise as a major motion picture business can create these days. Diverting the attention of the public-at-large through the production codename Valencia, the unanticipated first trailer for what looked to be the much-desired, if largely-unexpected, sequel to the original monster hit (in more ways than one) came like a bombshell before Michael Bay’s 13 Hours this January, similar to the one Paramount also sprung for Cloverfield (back in the good old 1-18-08 days) before Bay’s first Transformers movie in summer 2007.

Like any production from J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot banner, it was another genius slice of marketing. Here comes this movie that literally had no buzz whatsoever, which is now among the most anticipated of the early new year. And we only have to wait another two-or-so months! It’s another testament to Abrams’ infamous mystery box. But if 10 Cloverfield Lane — the “blood relative” to the found footage film that shares its name, as producer Abrams has called it of late — proves anything, it’s that maybe the mystery box wasn’t shut tight enough. Even though the trailers almost gave away almost nothing, I couldn’t help but feel as though I knew exactly what I was getting with this one. My mind went in open, but I still had a pretty good idea of what giddiness I was getting into.

With his first feature film, director Dan Trachtenberg — whom many on the web may know best from his days co-hosting The Totally Rad Show — rattles us up with a taunt little jack-in-the-box of a movie, one that leaves up cringing, squirming and cavorting with delight in our seats waiting for the big, expected reveal to finally pop out. It’s a highly suspenseful thriller, not unlike the other film that shares 1/3rd of its title, but having lead us to believe the jack inside the box was going to appear one way, it’s hard not to get just a little disappointed when the doll that springs out the box is not quite the jester you were kinda hoping would appear. I guess I should explain a little more.

Don’t get me wrong: what you get here is well worth the time invested and spent. I doubt many will walk away thinking they were robbed a good movie. You get a wonderfully wrapped package, but what’s inside the gift box may not be the dollhouse you thought you put on your list. Enough with the toy metaphors, you say? Fair enough. I guess what I’m saying here is: there might be such a thing as promoting a movie too well. Because, sometimes, the clover you turn over may not have as many leafs as you thought.

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So let’s get to the nitty-gritty, shall we? Alright first off, is 10 Cloverfield Lane a sequel to 2008’s Cloverfield? Well I’m not sure, really. After mulling it over for a bit, I think it’s safe to say the answer is: no. At least, that’s my answer. Abrams could prove me wrong. He’s done it before. Does it have similar themes and  consistencies? Absolutely. Are the thrills and jump-scares effective, especially when surrounded by the booming intensity of IMAX speakers? Totally. Do they have some tie-ins with one another? They do, actually. I advise you to be on the lookout for the Slusho logo. That’s a key one I notice, even if it’s a little obvious. But of course, the characters are now completely different, the actors are recognizable, the setting is elsewhere, the camera is actually holstered by a tripod, related destruction doesn’t happen on-screen and, in fact, none of the events of the original film are mentioned, shown or addressed. Not even a little bit. I think this is as good a point as any to mention that, if you don’t want to know anything about this one, I would suggest not reading too much further. In short, it’s a good movie. But it has some problems.

Without getting into too many details, there are some monsters — just maybe not the ones you were initially expecting. This is at the heart of where I feel the promotional materials misdirected people, if even just a little bit here. I think it was a dirty trick on somebody’s part to include the Cloverfield monster’s semi-iconic roar in the promos. That’s a petty thing, I’m know. And it doesn’t relate to the actual movie at hand, I’m aware. But it’s deliberate and, quite frankly, kinda wrong choice. And a damn sneaky one too.

Nevertheless, it’s important to note, once again, that Trachtenberg shouldn’t be blamed. Far from it, I would say. Objectively, his debut is —at its absolute best — a shockingly confident tour-de-force, an impeccably well-crafted filmmaking grand entrance aided well by an equally smart, often self-aware screenplay and boosted by layered and deeply-felt performances from the three leads. It’s a supremely well-oiled machine of a bunker pulse-pumper, which makes the fact that I can’t say I completely loved it all-the-more frustrating. But that’s the case here, and I don’t want to lie to you fine folks. After all, you guys seem like nice enough people. I don’t want to stray you wrong.

Again, was I going in with too many preconceptions? Perhaps. But at its heart, I think 10 Cloverfield Lane is merely a very well-groomed B-movie — although one acting chiefly as a chamber drama piece, not unlike recent Best Picture nominee Room. But, you know, minus some of the whole childlike wonder found in the first half and all. Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Gallagher Jr. and especially John Goodman are all aces in their parts, committed to the intensity with full convictions and never blinking at the chance to travel down the dark, twisted, occasionally haunting road this tight-quartered picture goes down through Josh Campbell & Matthew Stuecken and Damien Chazelle’s (Whiplash) warped little screenplay. It’s an absorbing, affectively unsettling little isolated mystery, and playing it in an enlarged format like IMAX actually adds to its engulfing sense of enclosure. You only think you know where it’s going to go, and don’t really know which way it’ll turn at any moment. But at the same time, you kinda, sorta do in many ways. And this gets to the heart of my biggest gripe.

As stressed before, expectations are everything, and I wish Abrams and his team — including executive producers Drew Goddard and Matt Reeves, the writer and director behind the initial Cloverfield, respectively — were just a little clearer about their intentions, and less murky with themselves about what they wanted to do here. Because I feel such wishy-washy attitudes is what keeps 10 Cloverfield Lane from being the great movie it should very well be. It’s among the few movies where having a monster pop out at the end actually makes things worse, and knowing these monsters are coming googat all hurts some of the morally ambiguity, and questions about whether or not there’s such a threat outside, that’s created inside the confined bottle where most of Trachtenberg’s film is hosted. As weird as I feel saying it, I kinda wish this wasn’t a Cloverfield movie. I wish it was just its own, self-contained little thing. It wouldn’t nearly have gotten the widespread attention it has now — which, admittedly, it does deserve, in many respects —but it would have been much more satisfying as a whole.

I spent way too much of this review focusing on what bothered me here, and I shouldn’t have. Because 10 Cloverfield Lane is, indeed, a good film all-around. The performances, as mentioned before, are absolutely excellent, including one A-list cameo I wouldn’t dare spoil. And I genuinely think Goodman’s chilling, versatile against-type role (you could say he’s not playing a very… good man, hehe) would be considered prime Oscar-material, if it wasn’t a genre film, not to mention one that came out in early March. Also, the sound design and the score constantly keep your ears glued for clues and your heart in your stomach, and it comes across so vividly through the louder-than-normal speakers available here that you’re always on edge.

And the attention-to-details on set is both impeccable and very considerate; I can’t wait to see where Trachtenberg’s career takes off after this debut. The use of silence and not throughout alone, namely in the wordless opening five minutes and one restless dinner session, proves he’s learned well from the filmmaking etiquettes of Alfred Hitchcock. And a nice weaving of comedy between beats of suspense (namely towards the middle and end) shows he knows the importance of balancing tones, and does so in a fluid manner. Plus, the tight editing proves there’s still a place in Hollywood for a fraught, well-clipped high-budget film. It’s nice to know not everything needs to be pushing the two-hour mark to be considered a good film. Good pacing is key to making a solid, worthwhile film.

And that, on the whole, sums 10 Cloverfield Lane up pretty well: solid and worthwhile. I don’t like that the promotional materials make you think you’re going one way when it’s ultimately just short of the ride there, but the trip down the rabbit hole isn’t unrewarding. This is an unnerving, tight-gripped film, and one that effectively peels away the details like an onion and knows a thing-or-two about holding the attention of its audience. In the future, though, I hope Abrams and the folks over at Bad Robot make it a little more straightforward with their brand.

10 Cloverfield Lane proves the Cloverfield name should be treated as various chapters in an ongoing, freestanding sci-fi anthology franchise, not unlike Tales from the Crypt, The Twilight Zone or, more appropriately, Alfred Hitchcock Presents. It should stay the course of reintroduced itself once throughout each decade or so. Skewing fans to think it’s otherwise feels like a petty cash grab, in some respects. And I don’t think that was everyone’s intentions here. Much like Reeves’ original film, this new Cloverfield doesn’t completely live up to the hype, but it nevertheless captivates you all-the-same. As masters of promotion, however, I think it’s more appropriate for Bad Robot to wiggle the collar than to tug at it sharply. We’ll follow you either way at this point, Abrams. His company may know what they’re doing, but it perhaps should reconsider what mysteries are best left unhidden.

Rating: B/B+

‘Whiskey Tango Foxtrot’ Review

As entertainment fans, we’ve appreciated Tina Fey’s strengths as a writer and comedian for over a decade now. She has asserted herself as the smartest girl in the room who served SNL very well during their better years, and also gave the world Mean Girls in the process. But as an actress, Fey has really come into her own these past couple years, and her latest film, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, marks a real turning point for her career.

With my limited exposure to her work on 30 Rock (and I still haven’t seen Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, so throw your rocks accordingly), it was 2014’s This is Where I Leave You that truly demonstrated Fey’s dramatic range to me, and her work as the co-lead opposite Amy Poehler in December’s Sisters proved she could play well against type. And with the newest film from directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa (I Love You Phillip Morris, Crazy, Stupid, Love., Focus), she finds a suits her talents well while also letting her expand into more adult, and appropriately edgy, material. We get to see both her unexpectedly strong acting suits blossom even further, and though she intentionally doesn’t disappear into the role of Kim Baker — a 40-something journalist who discovers herself from 2006-2008 covering the Afghanistan war on the frontlines — she makes the role wholly her own, which fits in line with the familiar-but-important feminist message at the heart of this new dramedy.

At times, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot runs the risk of becoming Eat, Pray, Report. Based on Kim Barker’s acclaimed 2011 memoir The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan (Note: The Pakistan segments didn’t make the transition from page-to-screen, it would seem), the film always runs the risk of playing things too soft or cute. The trailers suggested as much, and there are certainly more than a few Hollywood-ized depictions of war seen throughout the running time. But thankfully the screenplay, written by Fey’s fellow Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt creator Robert Carlock, never forgets about the dangers surrounding the main character, and the opposition she’ll have to face, in such a hazardous terrain. This isn’t a vacation for Baker, she and we are made perfectly clear. But at the same time, that also doesn’t mean she can’t have fun under the desert sun either.

Oh yes, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot most certainly lives up to the first part of its title. Several drinks are shared between Fey and her supporting cast, including Margot Robbie as a fellow war correspondent Tanya Vanderpoel (another solid performance) and Martin Freeman as freelance photographer and Scottish bad-boy Iain MacKelpie (can the man do any wrong?). There are more-than-a-few mornings where Kim is shown wrestling a bad hangover or puking the alcohol out of her system, and once again, it’s fun to see Fey get to live in the moment on-screen.

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Her Baker is a self-made, forward-thinking, independent woman that can prove herself on the battlefront without having them get overstated throughout the film. The challenges she faces as a woman in this war-torn area are always stressed upon, but they feel real and urgent and, therefore, never feel overstated. She also constantly establishes herself as a progressive, hard-hitting woman without any forced long-winded speeches or heavy-handed messages. Rather, we see her grow as a reporter and person rather than get told as much (and this where the aforementioned Julia Roberts movie failed so often), and we get to live her journey with her rather than have it told to us explicitly. It’s very refreshing, in that sense.

But at times, it does feel like a feminist piece first, a drama second and a comedy third. And that’s what holds Whiskey Tango Foxtrot back the most: its lack of consistent tone. Though there’s a lot happening here and a lot of different emotions felt, Ficarra and Requa never quite find the right balance. It feels largely uneven, especially as it gets heavier in the last act, and it often causes the comedy to start-and-stop in the process. Which is a shame, because the laughs are often natural and well-placed when found. There are some taboo subjects (a little more on that later), but Whiskey handles a lot of its sensitive subjects with confidence and great care, and knows how to get its point across without having to sacrifice any of its integrity in the process. The comedy helps with this a lot whenever it comes around.

The commentary here isn’t revolutionary by any means. But with that said, it’s done well and it comes naturally within the plot, so it works. It’s not a conversation starter; it’s just keeps the conversation going. Although there’s already been some controversy found in casting its two Afghan characters, Fahim Ahmadzai and Ali Massoud, as Eastern European/Portuguese Christopher Abbott and half-Spanish/half-Italian Alfred Molina, respectively. I’m not going to delve into the implications of this, but rather note that both are very good in their roles, even downright excellent at times. Abbott is practically unrecognizable in his role, bringing a careful wit and a great sensitivity to his performance that continues to demonstrate his young acting talents. Seriously, between this, James White and his tenure on Girls, this guy is proving himself to be one of the brightest up-and-coming talents we have working today. And Molina is good as always in his equal parts inviting and slimy role, hidden behind a lusciously thick beard and commanding a challengingly thick accent with ease.

The ultimate lack of urgency and the familiarity of Baker/Barker’s upswing may not end up making it a must-see, but Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is a more-than-enjoyable dramatic romp — one that holds itself well with a mature, grace and wit that keeps it engaging and investing throughout. It intentionally does quite have the polish of the directors’ past films, but it proves their range and depth as filmmakers. And it provides another win for producers Lorne Michaels and Fey, alongside Ian Bryce. Much like Kim, it most certainly holds its own, and thankfully it doesn’t hide in the trenches. It comes out guns a-blazing.

Rating: B-

‘Zootopia’ Review

Zootopia doesn’t necessarily break any new ground. A film centered on anthropomorphic animals walking-and-talking their way through their own animal-centric big city, it harkens back to the ever-vibrate DNA of the company — present since their namesake painstakingly drew Mickey Mouse cartoons for a quick buck, only to wind up with a multi-billion fortune.  And we’ve come a long way with this territory: We’ve got Bugs Bunny, Alvin and the Chipmunks, The Cat in the Hat, Charlotte’s Web, Madagascar, Scooby-Doo, Stuart Little, Yogi Bear, Dr. Dolittle, Babe, Fantastic Mr. Fox, BoJack Horseman, A Talking Cat!?!, Norm of the North (!), direct-to-DVD Air Bud sequels, Animals on HBO. The list goes on. But Zootopia — the latest from directors Bryon Howard (Bolt, Tangled) and Rich Moore (Wreck-It Ralph) — doesn’t take pride in the originality of its concept, but rather the innovation in execution. And in that sense, it’s full of (wild) life.

I mean, the story is kinda familiar, kinda not. Since childhood, small-town gal Judy Hopps (voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin) has set her sights on one goal: to become the first-ever rabbit police officer. But cops are normally, you know, pigs —or, perhaps, bigger, more intimating animals. Because of her meek size and the nimble figure found inside her genetics, everyone suggests she move into the carrot farming business with her mom and pops (voiced by Bonnie Hunt and Don Lake, respectively). And even though she gets berated and picked on by bullying foxes and other larger, imposing animals around her, she doesn’t let them get the better of her. She makes herself tougher, stronger, fiercer than any cotton-tailed creature has ever been before, and it earns her a cushioned public service position away in the ever-growing Zootopia — a lavish, expansive city unlike any other in their furry little world.

Her parents beg her to reconsider, afraid of what dangers lurks away from the comforts of small living. But Judy has a dream, and she’s going to follow through on it, no matter what it takes. So with her bags packed, her train ticket in hand and her eyes opened bright and wide, she makes her way towards the marvelous city of Zootopia . And it’s definitely a jungle of its own, with crooks running rapid and shady personalities everywhere you turn. All perfect for an aspiring law-abider like Judy, but Chief Bogo (voiced by Idris Elba) thinks otherwise. Instead of chasing around bad guys or discovering what happened to eight missing subjects from the area, she’s assigned a far less glamorous job: parking patrol. Despite her qualms, this little rabbit who could makes the most of her opposition, writing 200 tickets before the clock strikes noon and keeping a close eye on any parking meter in sight.

And in the midst of such hard work, Judy runs into the likes of Nick Wilde (voiced by Jason Bateman), a sly fox of a con man who’s made a living tricking others. She takes notice of the sneaky individual, but doesn’t quite have the authority yet to lock him up for his dubious affronts. But when given the chance to assert herself beyond giving out parking violations, she quick realizes Nick might be her only hope towards catching the man response for all these missing individuals around the city. Though they obviously don’t get along at first — Judy practically blackmails Nick into doing her bidding — his street smarts and her cunning attitude prove to be the perfect pairing towards taking down the nefarious foes surrounding them. And in the process, they’ll prove foxes and rabbits might —dare I say it — be able to learn how to work together in harmony.

Sounds cute enough, right? It is. There’s a lot to find appealing in Zootopia, a movie that’s objectively likable enough in its execution and character design and not without its self-aware charm. The animation is among the most vibrant and eye-popping the animation studio has produced in some time, with a rotating cycle of inspired set pieces, noteworthy side characters and easy-on-the-eyes fluidity. And the voice acting all-around — which also includes Jenny Slate, J.K. Simmons, Tommy Chong, Octavia Spencer, Alan Tudyk and Shakira, the latter proving the film’s signature original single, “Try Everything” —is just fantastic, but it’s namely our perfectly cast leads that stand out. It’s actually among the best vocal performances I’ve seen in a Disney movie in a good while, with Goodwin allowing the sweet sentimentality and goodhearted persistence of our lovable lead to ring true with each step (or, more appropriately, hop), and the cunning wit of Bateman’s familiar voice always singing within his coolheaded character. The pacing always snaps with its sharp claws, constantly adding momentum, laughs, thrills, tons of hearts and lots of intelligence to the fun, and the writing from Phil Johnston (Wreck-It Ralph) and co-director Jared Bush almost always finding clever, imaginative avenues for Zootopia to thrive from.

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Again, there’s a lot to like about this new animated feature, and yet not necessarily a ton to love. That’s because — much like Big Hero 6, the studio’s last animated feature — there’s a generic familiarity to the proceedings that’s hard to completely shake off. As I’ve stressed in the opening paragraphs, Zootopia’s similarities to its big screen peers, and even small-screen competition, is a list that goes on and on and on. It’s not as if this new movie lives in their shadow necessarily. As stressed before, that it knows its limitations and often works against them is its greatest assist. But it often doesn’t quite feel like enough; it’s almost as if we’ve been here before, and done this all already — even before the first frame enters onto the screen. There’s inventiveness throughout, but it doesn’t necessarily feel super fresh. There’s an exciting possibility that anything can happen, but such hopes don’t get lived up to their fullest potential. It’s a worthwhile effort that just doesn’t quite have enough to be won over head-and-heels by, but then again, there’s certainly enough cuteness and squeeze-worthy personalities on-screen to make the tidings worth the ride.

And then we get to the surprise racial commentary in the last act of this film, which most certainly doesn’t come out of nowhere but provides a timely, thoughtful commentary that wasn’t at all expected from such a comically lighthearted Disney fable. And without getting into spoilers, I give them major props for tackling such heavy, media-friendly controversy in such an accessible, if fairly obvious, manner. There are undoubtedly going to be quite a few conversations between young kids and their parents on the car ride home from the theater, and though many of these parents likely won’t delve deep into the subject matter at hand until their children are a little older perhaps, applause should be given for producing a platform to tackle such meaty, complex topics in a manner that’s friendly, understandable and universally relatable. It’s easily what puts Zootopia above the ranks of their wishy-washy last feature, and closer to the thoughtful depths of Pixar’s excellent Inside Out. Not quite, mind you, but it definitely gets close in its best moments.

But does including such discussion-worthy material in their film warrant it a must-see on its own? Not completely. Beyond its heady themes by the end, Zootopia is, ultimately, just an enjoyable but mildly forgettable family romp about learning acceptance, friendship and adversity against the odds — morals Disney has, in fact, not found unfamiliar in their past films, much like the general concept at hand here. It’ll win over children for sure, and parents will find enough to make the trip worthwhile. It might not make Frozen money, but it could get pretty close. So in that sense, it’s a win-win for everyone. I just wish the Mouse House found just a little more here to make this animal feature stand out amongst the herd — if you get my drift. It’s a little too conventional to stand against its predatory instincts and, sometimes, it’s good to indulge your wild side.

Rating: B-/B

‘Eddie the Eagle’ Review

Eddie the Eagle sneaks up on you. Sure, it’s got all the classic trappings of a clichéd, watered down, oversaturated underdog sports movie. It relishes in its cheesy, squeaky-clean intentions, and —at its worst — it feels downright patronizing in its crowd-pleasing tendencies. But as plucky and unwavering as its spunky little true-life lead, there’s an unabashed sincerity about it all.

For as much as it mimics the lost art of hokey sports films popularized (and eventually heavily satirized) throughout the late ‘80s/early ‘90s, all without adding anything new to the equation, it’s a genuinely pleasing picture. It’s a gentle, warm heart sleeper with a big heart, and a goofy grin on its face, that’s hard not to be swept up by. It might have a lot of obstacles in its way, but it jumps over them with aplomb. It doesn’t take the top prize, but in its own right, it’s a winner.

On paper, the newest film from actor-turned-director Dexter Fletcher comes across like a series of checkpoints from the How to Make a Generic Sports Movie manual: A little boy overcoming some Forrest Gump-level leg braces to live out his dreams as an Olympic skier? Check. A main titular character (Taron Egerton) defined by his awkward behavior, dorky glasses and oddball persistence — to the point where he doesn’t feel connected to reality in any real meaningful way? You got it. A begrudging father (Keith Allen) who doesn’t think his son’s near-impossible ambitions should get in the way of his working class destiny? Sure thing. A focus on an unpopular sport — in this case, ski jumping — to make the formula feel just a wee bit fresh? Yeppers. A washed-up former athlete (Hugh Jackman) with a permeant flask in his hand who comes around to coach our well-meaning hero? Of course. Some stuffy board members who make following through on such dreams a living nightmare? Uh-huh. A sports montage or two? Cue up the Hall and Oates, please. And some wacky sports commentators — including one played by Jim Broadbent —along the way for some spice? Practically a necessity, really.

The similarities Eddie the Eagle shares to many, many films before it — both good and bad — are almost countless. Comparisons to Cool Runnings are basically inevitable, even downright invited at times.  If you’re paying attention, the first Jamaican bobsled team gets a little side mention as well. There’s also some Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo in its veins too, not to mention some Slap Shot and The Mighty Ducks swimming around in there somewhere. It sounds like a collusion course in predictable, sterile territory, an absolute nightmare in tired tropes and uninspired dreck, doesn’t it? That’s what you’d think —yet, somehow, it isn’t.

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Okay, I’m not going to lie to you: it kinda is. I’m not saying this movie tries anything original by any stretch of the imagination. But to criticize it for its lack of authenticity and groundbreaking material would be completely missing the point. From conception until its final product, Eddie the Eagle is destined as a loving, swelling tribute to the kind of sports film of its era, a film Eddie himself would want to see and would happily cheer along with alongside the rest of the audience. It’s a straight-faced throwback feature in every which way. It’s never afraid of its sentimentality or plain-faced idealism, and not unaware of how trite it might end up in the process It’s got a big old twinkle in its eye for the sports comedy of old, and it never takes a moment to make fun of the genre or lampoon its misguided sincerity. It’s earnest in all the right ways, and with some fantastic performances from Egerton and Jackman, it all comes together in one finely graced swoop.

I feel as though I need to defend myself for liking Eddie the Eagle, but I don’t really see why. Does it all ring a little false? Absolutely. Does it play safe to a fault, to the point where it seems to pander to its audience? I’d be hard-pressed not to say so. Its greatest disadvantage is, for a movie about defying the odds and towering to greatness, it seems content to do things exactly as they’ve been done before. But at the same time, it knows exactly what it wants to be, and is as dead-set as Eddie to make it come alive in that exact, specific way.

So it’s a bit of a toss-up, I suppose. Eddie the Eagle appeals to a specific audience at times, but it knows exactly what it’s doing and it’s not unsuccessful in its low-grade ambitions. And it’s an easy one to watch too. It’s a feel-good movie that actually makes you feel good, and what this glazed donut of a movie might lack in nutritional value, it most definitely makes up for in unfiltered sugary sweetness. Even when it cloys to its fullest, it’s massively appealing. For as much as it plays its viewers like a fiddle, it’s a sax-heavy tune you don’t mind dancing to.

Its conventionalism plays as its greatest strength and weakness, but nevertheless, it’s a perfectly admirable little production. It’s just another success for producer Matthew Vaughn, proving once and for all that his Kingsman star Edgerton is the real deal, and demonstrating Jackman’s range go beyond his Wolverine claws and singing chops. It’s a compassionate bleeding heart of a movie, not likely to become a classic but very likely to win people over where it plays. And don’t be surprised if you’re one of them. Don’t fight it either. In short, Eddie the Eagle is worthy contender for all the right reasons. And though it doesn’t necessarily soar, it flies high enough to stick the landing on the way down.

Rating: B-