Saturday 22 July 2023

Movie Review: Cool Runnings (1993)

Genre: Sports Comedy
Director: John Turteltaub
Starring: John Candy, Leon Robinson, Doug E. Doug
Running Time: 98 minutes

Synopsis: In 1987, Jamaican sprinter Derice Bannock (Leon Robinson) falls in a qualifying race and misses out on the Olympic team. He switches his dream to the winter games and connects with Kingston-based American bobsled coach Irv Blitzer (John Candy). They recruit pushcart derby champion Sanka (Doug E. Doug), rick kid Junior (Rawle D. Lewis), and tough sprinter "Yul Brynner" (Malik Yoba) into the team. Irv and the aspiring bobsledders will need to surmount numerous challenges to represent a proud but winter-free nation at the 1988 Calgary Olympics.

What Works Well: Inspired by actual events, this is a feel-good sports underdog story. Director John Turteltaub aims for family-friendly laughs and adds doses of humanity derived from three backstories: Coach Irv is on a redemption journey to compensate for a tainted past; Derice has a family legacy to live up to; and Junior needs to emerge from underneath his rich father's shadow. The men are tied together with a bow of national pride and a simple message of staying true to cultural roots.

What Does Not Work As Well: The unnecessary search for simplistic villains reaches for stone faced European opponents and grim Olympic officials placing every hurdle possible in the path of the happy-go-lucky Jamaicans. The stereotyping combines with a Hollywoodized ending to strive for the nausea medal.

Conclusion: An inspirational downhill run encounters some bumps.

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