Four Jamaicans form their countries first ever Bobsled team to compete in the upcoming 1988 Winter Olympics. They enlist the help of a disgraced former Olympic gold winner to reluctantly coach them. However, when they reach Canada they're treated as outsiders by the other teams, who fear they'll only succeed in embarrassing the sport.Written by
The television march-past at the opening ceremony shows the coach and four bobsledders. In fact, Jamaica was represented at the Calgary opening ceremony by about ten people, including officials and back-up sledders. See more »
In Calgary Olympic Village, the flag of Sri Lanka can be seen among a group of flags of the participating countries. Actually Sri Lanka did not took part of the event, and as of 2015 has never been part of a Winter Olympics. See more »
[Yul and Junior are in the hotel room, getting ready to go to a bar; there's a knock on the door. Yul goes to open it, finding Sanka dressed in a maid's uniform, carrying a feather duster]
Maid Service, sir! Would you like your bed turned down? Mint? Perhaps I could dust your head!
Whatever is wrong with you is no little thing.
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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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