January 16, 2010

Review: Cool Runnings

You might be tired of seeing all of these movie reviews, but they're easy for me, they're relatively evergreen given the fact that I can write them whenever, and I want my opinion heard. So here goes another review of a movie that's been out forever. Of course, given the upcoming Winter Olympics in Vancouver, I think that there is some relevance to reviewing Cool Runnings.

If you haven't heard of or watched Cool Runnings, you've missed out. The movie, inspired by the real life Jamaican national bobsled team, tells a fictionalized account of the first team's entry into the 1988 Seoul Winter Olympics. There are, of course, significant changes in details as compared with real life, so the movie is very much Disneyfied, but nonetheless it's still worth watching.

The story basically starts with some Jamaican sprinters who failed to qualify for the Summer Olympics because of a fault on the track. One of these sprinters, desperate to become an Olympian like his father, begins on a comically foolhearted attempt to recruit a bobsled team with the help of a former gold medalist living on the island. What follows next are a series of comical mishaps that ultimately result in the team competing in the Winter Olympics.

Of course, this is not how it really happened. In real life the team was founded primarily of soldiers at the behest and support of the Jamaican NOC. But the basic inspirations, that track stars would make good bobsledders and that Jamaican push cart derbies were similar enough to bobsledding to warrant a try still get through. There was no coach similar to John Candy's character: it was a multitude of people and none of them had the same dishonor Candy's character had suffered. Nonetheless the plot changes, while seriously altering reality, don't hurt the general message of the movie.

The actors play their roles well, though not with any real distinction. The plot allows the characters to both be funny and truly grow, and the ending is something that is both classic Disney and yet somewhat true to life. It is, in short, a well crafted little movie that deserves to be watched.

Look, if you've heard of this movie you've probably already seen it. However, I can tell you from watching it multiple times that it is worth watching again. If you haven't seen it, get on it. With the Winter Olympics coming up, it is the perfect movie to get you excited about all of those winter sports.

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