Cert: PG Runtime: 98 mins Director: John Turteltaub Starring: Leon, Doug E.Doug, Rawle D.Lewis, Malik Yoba and John Candy
Our Father, who art in Calgary, Bobsled be thy name. Thy kingdom come, gold medals won, on Earth as it is in Turn Seven. With Liberty and Justice for Jamaica and Haile Selassie. Amen.
As it is the Olypmics I thought I would review a sport film, fuck Chariots of Fire it’s far to English for my liking so Cool Runnings is where it is. Irving Blitzer (John Candy) disgraced himself when putting extra weights into his team’s bob in the Olympics, resulting in his gold medal being taken away from him. Years later, Derice Bannock (Leon), son to a former friend of Irv, fails to qualify for the 100-yard sprint for the Olympics due to a stupid accident. But when he hears of Irving Blitzer living also on Jamaica, Derice decides to go to the Games anyway, if not as a sprinter, then as a bobsledder. After some starting problems, the first Jamaican bobsledding team is formed and heads for Calgary. In the freezing weather Derice, Sanka (Doug E. Doug), Junior (Rawle D.Lewis) and Yul (Malik Yoba) are only laughed at, since nobody can take a Jamaican bobsledding team led by a disgraced trainer seriously. But team spirit and a healthy self confidence may lead to a few surprises in the upcoming Winter Games.There are a select few films that seem to resonate with everybody. I cannot remember anyone who had seen this that didn’t enjoy it but somehow, it had escaped my attention until now. So forgive me if I’m a little late to the party but at least I now understand where you are all coming from. Yes, it’s a Disney sport-based movie and yes, it hasn’t dated that well in terms of effects (or fashions!). But there is a real charm, chemistry between the leads and genuine humour to it that lifts this above most other movies of this type. It’s not quite “Rocky” but given a Jamaican twist and you’re halfway there.
Anybody expecting a serious sports drama had better look elsewhere because “Cool Runnings” never takes itself seriously. In fact, the greatest compliment I can pay it is that for the most part, it never actually feels like a sports movie – mainly due to the comedy which is both funny and well-performed. With Candy being the only actor I recognise, the four leads acquit themselves very well alongside their heavyweight co-star, who seems to be lacking some of the spark that made him so watchable in the likes of “Planes, Trains and Automobiles”. The story, based on fact, doesn’t offer any real surprises as the usual obstacles and hiccups along the way emerge. What this film does have, aside from commendable humour, is a heart to it and a sense that (for once) winning isn’t everything.It does look its age in places – the bobsledding scenes are understandably rough around the edges and the day-glo fashions are extremely reminiscent of the early Nineties – but “Cool Runnings” remains a very watchable effort. It doesn’t have any pretences of greatness about it, unlike most other sports films where “the big game” at the end is literally the biggest thing in the world. Here, they just want to compete and this sits well with the easy-going Jamaican vibe to the film which is undeniably infectious. Despite the snow and ice, the film has a warm, sunny glow to it and while I detest describing anything as “heartwarming”, “Cool Runnings” would certainly qualify. Champion!