Cool Runnings is a 1993 American comedy sports film directed by Jon Turteltaub and starring Leon Robinson, Doug E. Doug, Rawle D. Lewis, Malik Yoba, and John Candy. The film was released in the United States on October 1, 1993. It was Candy's last film to be released during his lifetime. It is loosely based on the true story of the Jamaica national bobsleigh team's debut in competition during the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The film received generally positive reviews. The film's soundtrack also became popular with Jimmy Cliff's cover of "I Can See Clearly Now" reaching the top 40 as a single in the United States, Canada, France, and the UK.
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Jon Turteltaub|
|Story by||Lynn Siefert|
|Music by||Hans Zimmer|
|Edited by||Bruce Green|
|Distributed by||Buena Vista Pictures|
|Box office||$154.9 million|
In November 1987, Jamaican sprinter Derice Bannock, trains to qualify for the 100 metres in the 1988 Summer Olympics. He fails to qualify when fellow runner Junior Bevil accidentally stumbles, knocking himself, Derice, and Yul Brenner down.
Derice vents his frustrations to Barrington Coolidge, the President of the Jamaica Olympic Association. He spots a photograph in Coolidge’s office, featuring his late father Ben, standing next to a fellow Olympic gold medal winner. Coolidge identifies the man as disgraced American bobsled medallist Irv Blitzer, who was disqualified for cheating in the 1972 Winter Olympics. Derice realises he could participate in the 1988 Winter Olympics by forming a bobsled team, recruiting his friend Sanka Coffie, a pushcart champion.
Blitzer, working in Jamaica as a bookie, at first refuses to help Derice, until learning he is Ben Bannock’s son. A recruitment drive fails, but the arrival of Junior and Yul allows Derice to a form the required four-man bobsled team. The team train with Blitzer, though Coolidge refuses to fund the $20,000 needed to participate in the Olympics, believing the inexperienced team will bring shame to Jamaica. Junior, who avoids telling his father about the team, sells his car to finance the trip to Canada.
In Calgary, Blitzer registers the team, receiving an old bobsled from his former teammate Roger. The Jamaicans struggle to drive the bobsled, and adapt to the cold, though exercise and hard work help them pay off. Derice begins to copy the techniques of the Swiss team. Sanka, Junior, and Yul get into a bar fight with the snobbish East German team, and are reprimanded by Derice.
The team successfully qualify for the finals, only to be disqualified by the Olympic committee, as retribution for Blitzer’s prior cheating scandal. Blitzer confronts Kurt Hemphill, his former coach, now a judge in the committee, asking him not to punish the Jamaicans for the cheating scandal. That night, the team are informed that they have been reinstated. Junior’s father arrives to retrieve his son, but Junior stands by his commitment to compete, earning Yul’s respect.
The team’s first day on the track is abysmal, finishing in last place. Sanka realises Derice is copying the Swiss team’s methods, encouraging the team to “bobsled Jamaican”. They improve on the second day, finishing in eighth place. During their final race, one of the bobsled’s blades detaches, causing it to flip over and crash. Determined to finish the race, the Jamaicans pick up their bobsled and carry it across the finish line, earning the applause of the other teams and the spectators. An epilogue explains the team would return home as heroes, then return to the 1992 Winter Olympics to participate.
- Leon Robinson as Derice Bannock
- Doug E. Doug as Sanka Coffie
- Rawle D. Lewis as Junior Bevil
- Malik Yoba as Yul Brenner
- John Candy as Irving "Irv" Blitzer
- Raymond J. Barry as Kurt Hemphill
- Peter Outerbridge as Josef Grool
- Paul Coeur as Roger
- Larry Gilman as Larry
- Charles Hyatt as Whitby Bevil
- Winston Stona as Barrington Coolidge
- Bertina Macauley as Joy Bannock
- Kristoffer Cooper as Winston
- Bob Del Torre as USA team Driver
According to Leon Robinson, "there were script problems. It wasn't funny enough, the key elements were lacking, and it just wasn't working. It was meant to happen when it happened." Leon, Doug E. Doug and Malik Yoba have all confirmed in their interview with Empire that it was originally meant to have been a serious sports drama film. The film's working title was Blue Maaga. Before Jon Turteltaub was officially hired, Jeremiah S. Chechik was slated to direct until he moved on to do Benny & Joon (1993) instead. Brian Gibson was also considered to direct, but he dropped out to do What's Love Got to Do with It (1993) instead. Turteltaub used actual ABC sports footage from the 1988 Olympics and incorporated it into the film.
According to Leon, "The script has been following me around for 31⁄2 years." Leon signed on when Gibson was then the director at the time. Leon told The Seattle Times, "I was signed more than a year before we actually started." Doug got involved with the film in 1990: "I found Cool Runnings three years ago, when my agent had it on his desk. I knew about the actual event it's based on, the Jamaican bobsled team that went to the '88 Olympics, and even though it's based pretty loosely I thought it made a great yarn." At the time of Doug's audition, Chechik was attached as the director. Doug told The Baltimore Sun: "I got the offer to play Sanka, the guy I'd wanted to play from the very beginning."
Lewis had very little experience and was not even allowed to audition at first. He told The Seattle Times, "I was hired to read lines to auditioning actors for just one day. That turned into three weeks. At first they told me they were looking for names, big stars, so I wouldn't be considered, but then they asked me to do a screen test." He also told The Baltimore Sun, "I came in to this film at first to coach the players in the authentic accents." Lewis was officially hired in November 1992. When asked by Empire how he got involved with the film, Yoba was introduced to the casting director, Jackie Brown, by "a gentleman by the name of Jamal Joseph." At the time of Yoba's official casting, Gibson was still slated to direct. Yoba later told Entertainment Weekly that he wrote the Jamaican bobsled song for his audition. Lewis claimed that the executives at Disney wanted Kurt Russell for the role of Coach Blitzer. However, John Candy personally insisted on portraying the coach and agreed to take a pay cut to do the movie. According to Yoba, Scott Glenn was also considered for the role. Cuba Gooding, Jr., Jeffrey Wright, and Eriq La Salle were each considered for a role as one of the four Jamaican bobsledders.
The film was shot in Calgary and Jamaica in February and March 1993. The cast and crew filmed in Calgary first, to take advantage of the snow. Then they filmed at the Jamaican parishes of Discovery Bay and Kingston. Dawn Steel was on the set every day in Calgary and Jamaica. According to Leon, "(Steel) worked on the second unit for a while, and she said 'Never again. I never want to direct.'"
A soundtrack album with 11 tracks was released by Sony in 1993 on compact disc (Columbia Chaos OK 57553).
In some European countries, the soundtrack album was released by Sony with a 12th (bonus) track being "Rise Above It" performed by Lock Stock and Barrel (Columbia 474840 2). Songs from the soundtrack also featured in a little known musical "Rasta in the Snow", which was based on events of the real Jamaican sled team.
|1.||"Wild Wild Life"||Wailing Souls||3:36|
|2.||"I Can See Clearly Now"||Jimmy Cliff||3:16|
|3.||"Stir It Up"||Diana King||3:49|
|4.||"Cool Me Down"||Tiger||3:50|
|5.||"Picky Picky Head"||Wailing Souls||4:10|
|6.||"Jamaican Bobsledding Chant"||Worl-A-Girl||4:16|
|7.||"Sweet Jamaica"||Tony Rebel||3:51|
|8.||"Dolly My Baby"||Super Cat||3:32|
|9.||"The Love You Want"||Wailing Souls||3:59|
|11.||"The Walk Home"||Hans Zimmer||4:37|
|12.||"Rise Above It"||Lock Stock and Barrel||3:32|
Cool Runnings debuted at No. 3. The film had total domestic earnings of $68,856,263 in the United States and Canada, and $86,000,000 internationally (with $416,771 earned in Jamaica), for a total of $154,856,263 worldwide.
Cool Runnings received positive reviews, including one from Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times which referred to the film as "a sweet-natured, high-spirited comedy, that rare movie that plays effectively to all ages. Even rarer, it celebrates genuine sportsmanship, placing the emphasis back on how the game is played in the face of the winning-is-everything philosophy that permeates every aspect of contemporary life."
Cool Runnings has received a rating of 76% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 42 reviews. The site's consensus states "Cool Runnings rises above its formulaic sports-movie themes with charming performances, light humor, and uplifting tone." On Metacritic it has a score of 60% based on reviews from 17 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film a grade A on scale of A to F.
The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:
Differences between real life and filmEdit
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Cool Runnings was loosely based on real life events surrounding the formation of the Jamaican bobsled team. The movie is mainly composed of fictional characters. Some of the incidents that occurred in the film were real, such as the favorites to win the four-man event beating the Swiss team (which they did), and the crash that eliminated the Jamaicans from further competition. However, there were several creative liberties taken by the filmmakers in order to complete the story.
The members of the team in the film are fictional characters, although the people who conceived the idea of a Jamaican bobsled team were inspired by pushcart racers and tried to recruit top track sprinters. They did not find any elite sprinters interested in competing and instead recruited four sprinters from the Air Force for the team.
Irving "Irv" Blitzer is a fictional character. The real team had several trainers, none of whom were connected to any cheating scandal. At the time of the movie's release, the United States had not won a gold medal in bobsleigh at the Winter Olympics in the four man event since the 1948 Winter Olympics in St. Moritz, Switzerland, and would not win the gold medal again until the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
In the film, the team is formed by Jamaican sprinters after failing to qualify for the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea, where as the real team was formed by members of the Jamaican Air Force. The Jamaican Summer Olympic Trials would have occurred following the Winter Olympics in Calgary.
A fictional all-encompassing winter sports governing body, the "International Alliance of Winter Sports", appears in the film. In reality, each Winter Olympic Sport has its own governing body, and bobsledding falls under the jurisdiction of the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation (or FIBT, the initials of its French name).
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) did disqualify the Jamaicans temporarily, but it was not an appeal by the coach that led the IOC to reverse this decision. Prince Albert of Monaco was among those who made the successful appeal.
One of the most fictionalized parts of Cool Runnings is the competition itself. The bobsled competition in the film consists of three individual runs held on three consecutive days, whereas in reality, the Olympic bobsled competition consists of four runs - two runs a day held over two consecutive days.
In the film, the Jamaicans are regarded as unwelcome outsiders to the Games by other countries (particularly East Germany) and ridiculed. In reality, the Jamaicans were treated as equals and there was no real animosity between the team and their competitors; in fact, the Jamaicans were aided by the United States team who lent them one of their backup sleds so they could qualify, so they did not have to buy another team's spare sled.
While the Jamaicans did crash their bobsled on their fourth and final run, the film implied the team was a medal contender, having run a world record pace prior to the crash. In reality, they were in 24th place (out of 26) after their first run was completed in 58.04. Their second run was completed in 59.37, which was the next-to-worst time (25th). On the third run, they had the worst time (1:03.19, good for 26th place), which was almost five seconds behind the 25th fastest run. Of the 103 runs that were completed in the four-man competition, nobody else posted a time over one minute. So going into the final run, the Jamaicans were in 26th (last) place with a cumulative time of 3:00.60 after three runs. This placed them 3.23 seconds behind Portugal for 25th place, and 10.19 seconds behind the Soviet team that was in third-place heading into the final run. They would have had to complete a world-record shattering time under 48.00 seconds to bring home a medal.
In the film, the crash happens on the third and final run and is depicted to have been caused by a mechanical failure in the front left blade of the sled. As the driver steers, a nut and bolt on the control column work loose, eventually causing a loss of control as the bobsleigh comes out of a turn and subsequently crashes.
In reality, the crash happened in the third out of four runs, and it was deemed that driver inexperience, excess speed, and regressing the turn too high caused the sled to become unstable and top-heavy seconds prior to it toppling onto its left side. The team did not start the fourth and final run.
Real TV footage of the actual crash was used in the film but was heavily edited to fit in with the film's version of the crash. Both the run and the high speed crash were disorienting: team member Nelson Chris Stokes "felt a bump" when they tipped but did not realize they had turned over until he started to smell his helmet (which was fiberglass) friction-burning on the ice, "which is something that stays with you for many years afterward."
After the crash, the film depicted the Jamaicans carrying their sled on their shoulders to the finish to a slow-building standing ovation. In reality, they did not carry the sled but walked next to it. When the sled tipped, they were doing 80 miles per hour (130 km per hour), and their helmets scraped against the wall for 600 metres (2,000 ft) until they came to a stop. They also received somewhat sporadic applause, less than the crescendo response in the movie, but the real bobsled driver Dudley Stokes cites the spectator applause as the reason the run turned from tragedy to triumph for him.
Four-man sled vs two-man sledEdit
The film also gives the impression that the Jamaicans were the only team from Central America and the Caribbean. This was the case in the four-man sled competition, which the movie focuses on. However, in the two-man competition there was also a bobsled team from Netherlands Antilles which finished 29th (one place ahead of Jamaica's two-man sled team) and two teams from United States Virgin Islands which finished 35th and 38th.
The film focuses entirely on the four-man bobsled team, which crashed their sled and finished last out of the 26 teams, as all 25 other teams were able to complete all four runs. It ignores the fact that two members of the team (Dudley Stokes and Michael White) also competed in the two-man sled competition and successfully completed all four runs, finishing in 30th place out of 38 teams that finished all runs, with three other teams which did not finish. The remaining members of the four man sled team were Devon Harris and Chris Stokes (Dudley's younger brother). In fact the whole formation of the bob-sleigh project as depicted in the film is incorrect. The film depicts them as forming the team as a four-man bobsleigh team right from the start. In reality, they started the project intending to compete in the two-man bobsleigh event only. They only decided to compete in the four-man event after having already completed the two-man event in Calgary.
In the movie, the weather is depicted as bitterly cold with a temperature of −25 °C (−13 °F). Actual temperatures in Calgary during the Games were well above normal, including some daytime highs above 16 °C (61 °F).
On November 11, 1994, the film was released on VHS and laserdisc by Walt Disney Home Video in the United States. On August 24, 1999, the film was released on DVD by Walt Disney Home Video in the United States in Region 1. On September 1, 2000, the film was released on VHS by Walt Disney Studios in the United Kingdom. On January 22, 2001, the film was released on DVD by Walt Disney Studios in the United Kingdom in Region 2. On March 28, 2017, the film was released on region free Blu-ray as a Disney Movie Club Exclusive title.
The film was made available for streaming on Disney+ on January 1, 2020.
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