Irving Blitzer 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, son of 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, Junior and Yul 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. Written by
Julian Reischl <email@example.com>
The Jamaican bobsledder characters in the movie were all fictional characterizations and were not based on their real life counterparts. John Candy's Irving "Irv" Blitzer coach character is also fictional. See more »
At the beginning of the film, when Derice is unable to qualify to the 1988 Summer Olympics Athletics, the president of the Jamaican Olympic Comitee tells him that to travel to the event he must practice either Cycling or Boxing, as those are the only other sports where they would participate.
Actually Jamaica also participated in Table Tennis and Weightlifting. See more »
[the team emerges from the airport into a blizzard]
It's not so much the heat, it's the humidity that'll kill you.
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Hands up all Jamaicans. (There are only 2.6 million people in Jamaica - so I know you don't account for a large percentage of the English-speaking world.) Hands up all those people with any interest at all in bobsledding. Hah! I knew it! No-one.
That's why `Cool Runnings' succeeds. It depends not at all on aggressive nationalism (it couldn't afford to, with a constituency of 2.6 million), and people of all countries are free to participate in the Jamaicans' perfectly reasonable patriotism. (Probably even the Swiss, whose bobsled team comes across as more than a trifle arrogant.) Nor is there any of that worship of a particular sport that makes baseball movies so unendurable for people outside of North America, Cuba and Japan. (Not that I have any evidence that baseball movies are popular in Cuba or Japan.)
There isn't any power-of-positive-thinking psychobabble, either - at least, it doesn't dominate. The four Jamaican bobsledders are separate people with different goals and ways of thinking. The coach (played beautifully by John Candy, who proves that he can act without playing the clown) doesn't ram a particular ideology down his players' throats. I doubt that any sports film has a more civilised and reasonable coach.
It comes down to this: we are given a reason to care about the characters, unrelated to nationality; and we are given a story that's worth following, even if we would never follow the sport itself. The clichés are fewer than usual and never offensive. It's a sweet film, and I doubt there's more than a handfull of people who could resist its charm.
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