There may be a few spoilers within which concern the end of Cool Runnings, so read at your own risk.
I’ll admit that when Cool Runnings was picked by the randomiser on 12th February, I wasn’t overtly happy. I’d seen bits and pieces of it before, but I’d never sat down and watched the whole thing, and also, sports films aren’t really my thing. To be brutally honest, I thought Cool Runnings was going to let me down. Oh boy, I was very wrong.
Cool Runnings tells the tale of Derice, a sprinter who narrowly misses out on competing in the 1988 Olympics. However, he forms a ragtag team alongside his friend Sanka, the shy and timid Junior, and the tough guy Yul, and together, they compete in the Winter Olympic Games, as the Jamaican bobsled team. The story, although mightily clichéd and convenient, is undeniably uplifting and joyful, which tells the audience that really, it’s not all about winning; as long as you stay true to yourself, you are already winning, regardless of the result.
There was so much I enjoyed about Cool Runnings, but the characters themselves were a large portion of this entertainment. They all have their own place in the team, and although a few, Sanka in particular, are a bit one-dimensional, we do see a couple of their characters really develop and change, particularly Junior, who learns that he can do what he wants, and becomes far less afraid, which really puts across a good message. And although Sanka’s character was very one-dimensional, he was by far my favourite of them all, purely due to how funny he is. Doug E. Doug, who plays Sanka, never really did anything too substantial with his career after Cool Runnings, which is a shame, because he is honestly a very talented comedian.
Another thing I liked was the direction and cinematography. It is hard to notice at first, but this really come into its own when the team are in the bobsled. The shots are up close and claustrophobic, adding to the tension of these races. Personally, I was so engaged with these characters that I was begging for them to win, which made the crash at the end really impactful. However, there were also some spectacular sweeping shots of the wide Jamaican landscape, and a few of snowy Calgary, the home of the 1988 Winter Olympic Games.
However, deep down, Cool Runnings conveys a rather powerful message about the importance of winning. It teaches viewers that the end result really doesn’t matter, as long as you have put in your 100%, and this particularly shone through with John Candy’s inspirational monologue to Derice before the final race, telling us that it is not success that makes the man, for the man already has to be made from hard work and dedication. In fact, this is what Candy says:
Derice, a gold medal is a wonderful thing. But if you’re not enough without it, you’ll never be enough with it.
On the other hand, there were a few glaring issues with Cool Runnings. The story, although loosely based on real-life events, was executed in a way that made it feel unoriginal and contrived, which is a shame because it really had the potential to be an outstanding film, but due to the poor plot, it comes close to falling into the category of generic sports films, but not quite. There was nothing original to the story, which made its strong message feel that bit less impactful than it could have been. The plot was also incredibly convenient, and although this is a film aimed at kids, adult viewers should be able to appreciate it without the annoyance of these ridiculous conveniences, such as the wealth of Junior’s family being the only reason the team could actually get into the qualifiers.
Another issue I faced was with the character of Yul Brenner, played by Malik Yoba. He is put across as the tough guy, and to be honest, it seems like he was only there to make up the numbers. Every other character that sits in the bobsled has something crucial going on, be it the leadership and dedication of Derice, the humour and wit of Sanka, or the development that Junior’s character goes through, but this does not apply to Yul. The film would be no different without him, which is a shame because if we knew more about Yul we may have been able to engage with him more.
Normally I’m not a fan of sports films, but for Cool Runnings I am more than happy to make an exception. It tells an uplifting, albeit contrived tale that has a strong message, good characters, and a bit of something for everyone. If you haven’t seen Cool Runnings, go and watch it, be you old or young, because you will have a good time guaranteed. All together now:
Feel the rhythm! Feel the rhyme! Get on up, its bobsled time! Cool Runnings!
I give Cool Runnings 8 out of 10.
What did you think of Cool Runnings? Be sure to leave a comment below, and stay tuned, because this Tuesday we will be announcing some exciting news regarding the Netflix Roulette series. As always, thanks for reading, and see you next time!
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