Review of 'Cool Runnings'

cool_runnings.jpg When Jamaican 100m runner Derice Bannock (Leon) is disqualified from the summer Olympic games he comes up with the idea of enlisting the help of local Blitzer (John Candy), a disgraced former Olympic bobsledder, to compete in the bobsleigh event at the winter Olympics in Calgary. Derice is determined to compete just as his father in the games. Initially reluctant to help, Blitzer is eventually won over by Derice's enthusiasm who then finds three others to complete the team. Training for the winter Olympics in the perpetual heat and sunshine of Jamaica proves to be difficult but eventually they are able to raise the money and make it to the games…but this is a whole new world. Will they be the laughing stock of the games or will they do their country, and themselves proud?

This is a very funny film that, it has to be said, has the slight whiff of condescension about it. This initial impression, however, is eventually pushed aside: The characters who initially see the whole experience as a bit of fun learn to really care for what they are striving for, and grow in the journey. Several story arcs demonstrate the growth of the characters such as Junior Bevil (Rawle D. Lewis) who has to become an adult and stand up to his overpowering (and overwhelming) father, and “Sanka Coffee” (Doug E. Doug) who has to grow up and learn to work as a member of the team. Though light in touch, there are some real truths on the screen here. Yeah, there are a good number of laughs in the early parts of the film and the (somewhat obvious) initial reactions of the Jamaicans to the harsh realities of a Canadian winter but after that it all gets serious. As it is a Disney film it is fairly easy to say the ending is a satisfying one as the characters learn to work as a team to achieve their goal.

It has to be said that John Candy's role is, unexpectedly, only minimally comic, indeed, here we see his character having to come to grips with the disgrace of his own Olympic experience – not too many chuckles there but this is where the late Candy does excel, amazing comedic talents but the ability to get serious and portray very serious aspects of his often complicated characters.

A good load of fun that manages to rise above it's initial somewhat stereotypical portrayal of the Jamaican people. An uplifting story of courage against seemingly impossible odds to achieve a dream.

Rating: “Really good but I have some issues”

Review Date: 2020-01-26

Directed by: Jon Turteltaub

Studio: Walt Disney Pictures

Year: 1993

Length: 98 minutes

Genre: Comedy