Sunday, 6 November 2016
Jamaica, '88. Derice wanted to qualify for a sprinter in order to represent his country at the Winter Olympics, but tripped and thus lost his opportunity. However, not wanting to give up, he manages to persuade a disgraced and exiled American there, coach Irv, who was previously awarded a golden medal, to train him as a bobsledder. The idea is ridiculed by everyone, yet Derice teams up with Sanka, Bevil and a man called Yul Brynner to form a first Jamaican bobsled team. In Calgary, they are shocked by the cold temperatures, yet manage to qualify, despite numerous obstacles. In the final round, their bob tips and crashes - yet they stand up and still lift it to finish the race, gaining respect for their spirit.
Loosely based on the true story of the first Jamaican bobsled team on the Winter Olympics, "Cool Runnings" still holds up today thanks to its honest ode to sincere outsiders whose sheer positive attitude and energy gets them into a state where they can never lose, regardless of the outcome. The simple story has been enriched thanks to playful editing (the comic dissolve from a tropic palm on the Jamaican airport to a snow covered pine tree on Calgary airport sums up everything about the trip of the heroes), wonderful characters, joyful gags (the four guys lose control of their improvised sled downhill - until they are stopped by ramming a police vehicle), a fast pace and elegant storytelling, all adding up to a very pleasant sports comedy: this is one of the most uplifting movies of the 90s. It was one of the last movies starring John Candy before his too early death a year later, and gave him one of his best roles featuring him in his finest hour: his role of coach Irv is both funny and realistic, and even gives some pathos to the quest of the four bobsledders, culminating in one of the greatest quotes of all time, when he explains that a person can always be worth something regardless of winning: "Derice, a gold medal is a wonderful thing. But if you're not enough without one, you'll never be enough with one." Slightly idealised near the end, this is still a fine film that got a lot of ingredients just right, and thus still proves to be popular among the audience.