“Feel the rhythm, feel the rhyme, get on up, it’s bobsled time!”
That’s right. I said in the post for D2: The Mighty Ducks that I was NOT a fan of sports movies and yet, here I am, only a few posts later, talking about another underdog sports team, this time inspired by true events! Ooooh! How exciting! Ya hear that, Frank?!
Yes, this was based off of the real Jamaican bobsled team who first took to the ice luge in the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics. You know what else happened during that Olympics?
Yeah, apparently there were two underdog sports films inspired from one Olympic Ceremony!
Cool Runnings follows Derice (played by Leon), an insanely fast sprinter that wishes to follow his Father’s footsteps and go to the Olympics, and he has an ace in his pocket: a faster run time than his Father. His best friend, Sanka Coffie (Played by Doug E. Doug), is an expert pushcart player in their local races on Jamaica.
The tryout begins and things are going great, until a rich boy named Junior (Rawle D. Lewis) trips both Derice and another competitor Yul Brenner (Malik Yoba) up as he tumbles down, ruining all three of their chances.
Devastated, Derice is determined to get to the Olympics somehow, and so he finds an old Olympian Irv Blitzer (played by the late, great John Candy), and he reluctantly teaches the four of them about bobsledding.
They make it after a rough start-stop, and end up in Calgary for the Winter Olympics! Whoo! Everything’s good from here, right?
Wrong. Irv has an enemy, a former teammate who is mad at poor John Candy because he cheated. This guy shortens the qualifying time, refuses to recognize Jamaica as a legitimate team, and eventually shuts them down because of Irv’s history. In short: he’s a dick.
In the end, they get to race, but a malfunction in the cart makes them flip onto their sides. (In reality, they just lost, but the writers wanted it to be more dramatic).
They carry their cart over the finish line for the pride of their country and the respect for the games.
What’s the franchise like?
Sadly, they never made a sequel to this film… Or did they?
Where/ when did I first see it?
I first rented this film soon after its release. Or maybe I watched it at the oft-mentioned babysitters… Hmm, either way it was in 1994, during the release on VHS.
How does it hold up?
So the film is a cheesy 90s movie, and a cheesy sports movie, but having said that, it also is really fun, and it’s surprisingly fast. Its setup is rather long in hindsight, and the Olympic part is shorter than most. For example in D2, they went to the Junior Goodwill Games like thirty-five minutes into the film and remained there until the end. Here, it was about halfway, and they only began competing the last thirty minutes I’d say.
A few things to Note:
In reality, the Jamaican Bobsled team was welcomed with open arms by the other countries, ya know, what the Olympics are all about: sportsmanship and honor. I think…
Sanka’s name is a joke about the Instant Coffee brand, Sanka. So his name is Sanka Coffie.
This film was directed by Jon Turtletaub who went on to direct While You Were Sleeping, Disney’s The Kid, the National Treasure films, and the upcoming adaptation of one of my favorite books: Meg.
It’s Sanka. Of course it’s Sanka, his fucking name is a brand of instant coffee. Ya Dead Mon? Good! Then perk up with the delicious flavor of Sanka Instant Coffee!
- Never project prejudice on others for they may surprise you.
- Always pack warm clothes when heading to Canada.
- Just once, if someone asks if “Ya Dead, Mon?” don’t say anything, they actually might think it’s true.
Where can you see it?
Check out Cool Runnings on CanIStream.It?