Cool Runnings is a 1993 American sports comedy film directed by Jon Turteltaub from a screenplay by Lynn Siefert, Tommy Swerdlow, and Michael Goldberg, and a story by Siefert and Michael Ritchie. It is loosely based on the debut of the Jamaican national bobsleigh team at the 1988 Winter Olympics, and stars Leon, Doug E. Doug, Rawle D. Lewis, Malik Yoba and John Candy. In the film, former Olympian Irving Blitzer (Candy) coaches a novice four-man bobsleigh team from Jamaica, led by sprinter Derice Bannock (Leon).

Cool Runnings
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJon Turteltaub
Screenplay by
Story by
Produced by
CinematographyPhedon Papamichael
Edited byBruce Green
Music byHans Zimmer
Distributed byBuena Vista Pictures Distribution
Release date
  • October 1, 1993 (1993-10-01)
Running time
98 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$17 million
Box office$154.9 million

Originally envisaged as a sports drama, Jeremiah S. Chechik and Brian Gibson were attached to direct before dropping out, causing Turteltaub to be hired. Leon was cast in 1989, followed by Doug and Yoba a year later. Lewis, who had little acting experience prior to the film and was first sought as a dialect coach, joined in November 1992. Principal photography began in February 1993 and lasted until that March, with filming locations including Kingston, Discovery Bay, and Calgary. Cool Runnings is Candy's final film released in his lifetime, while its score was composed by Hans Zimmer.

Cool Runnings was theatrically released in the United States on October 1, 1993, by Buena Vista Pictures. It received positive reviews from critics, with praise for its humor, tone, and cast performances. The film grossed $154.9 million worldwide and its theme song, "I Can See Clearly Now" by Jimmy Cliff, reached number 18 on the US Billboard Hot 100.



In November 1987, Jamaican sprinter Derice Bannock trains to qualify for the 100-meter dash in the forthcoming Summer Olympics in Seoul. He fails to advance in the trials when fellow runner Junior Bevil accidentally stumbles and falls, knocking down Derice and another competitor, Yul Brenner.

Derice petitions for the race to be rerun, but committee leader Barrington Coolidge denies the request, though he feels pity for Derice. He invites him to try again in four years or to try out for one of the only two other sports Jamaica competes in: boxing and cycling. Derice spots a photograph in Coolidge's office, which shows his late father, Ben, standing next to a fellow Olympic gold medalist. Coolidge identifies the man as disgraced American bobsled champion Irving Blitzer, who was disqualified for cheating in the 1972 Winter Olympics in Sapporo and now works as a bookie close to Derice's home. Derice realizes he could enter the upcoming Winter Olympics in Calgary by forming a bobsled team, recruiting his friend Sanka Coffie, a pushcart derby champion.

Derice and Sanka track down Blitzer, who initially refuses to help Derice but reluctantly agrees to coach the team after learning that he is Ben's son. A recruitment drive fails when only Derice and Sanka stay until the end of a preliminary meeting, but Junior and Yul arrive late, allowing Blitzer to form a four-man team. Junior, like Derice, cannot wait another four years to enter the Olympics, and Yul wants to get off the island. The team trains with Blitzer, though Coolidge refuses to provide the $20,000 needed to participate in the Olympics, believing the team's inexperience will bring shame to Jamaica. Derice tries and fails to find sponsors, and he, Sanka, and Yul have little success with a range of fund-raising ventures (Yul arm wrestles challengers, Sanka horribly sings in the street, and Derice runs a kissing booth, until being caught by his wife Joy). Ultimately, Junior sells his car to finance the trip.

Upon reaching Calgary, Blitzer registers the team and borrows a rundown bobsled from Roger, one of his past teammates. The Jamaicans struggle to adapt to the cold and race conditions but improve through exercise and hard work. Derice begins to copy the techniques of the very efficient Swiss team. The East German team and their captain, Josef Groole – the current bobsled world record holder – constantly heckle the Jamaicans during tryouts. Eventually, all the team members except Derice get into a bar fight with the East Germans, and Derice reprimands them severely afterward.

After weeks of training, the team successfully makes 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, as they had nothing to do with his past actions. The team is reinstated, and Junior rebuffs his father's attempt to bring him home, firmly stating his intent to remain in Calgary and represent Jamaica.

The team's first day on the track is a disaster, finishing in last place. Sanka disapproves of Derice copying the Swiss team's methods and encourages them to find their own competition style. They significantly 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 team picks up their bobsled and carries it across the finish line, earning the applause of the other teams and the spectators, including Junior's father, despite their loss. An epilogue explains that the team returned to Jamaica as heroes, then returned to the Olympics four years later to participate as equals.


  • Leon Robinson (credited as Leon) as Derice Bannock
  • John Candy as Irving "Irv" Blitzer
  • Doug E. Doug as Sanka Coffie
  • Rawle D. Lewis as Junior Bevil, a shy, educated, young man from a wealthy family who is afraid to stand up for himself. Junior sells his expensive car and forgoes a high-paying brokerage job to compete.
  • Malik Yoba as Yul Brenner, a burly tough guy. Initially he hates Junior, as he blames him for the failure of his original Olympic campaign. But they become friends during the movie, as Junior defends Brenner when Sanka ridicules him, and Brenner teaches Junior to be more assertive.
  • Raymond J. Barry as Kurt Hemphill
  • Peter Outerbridge as Josef Grool, the obnoxious but very efficient leader of the East German team.
  • Paul Coeur as Roger
  • Charlotte Frasca as Clive
  • Lee Maynard as himself
  • Alex Frasca as Colin
  • Larry Gilman as Larry
  • Lewis Hinds as Vinnie
  • Charles Hyatt as Whitby Bevil, Junior's father, a hard-working businessman, who is initially dismissive of the bobsled venture
  • Winston Stona as Barrington Coolidge
  • Bertina Macauley as Joy Bannock
  • Kristoffer Cooper as Winston
  • Bob Del Torre as USA team Driver
  • Martin Hub as Czech Bobsled Driver



According to Leon, "there were script problems.[2][3][4] It wasn't funny enough, the key elements were lacking, and it just wasn't working. It was meant to happen when it happened."[3] Leon, Doug and Yoba confirmed in an interview with Empire that it was originally meant to have been a sports drama film.[5][6][7] The film's working title was Blue Maaga.[8] 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.[2] Turteltaub used the actual ABC sports footage from the 1988 Olympics and incorporated it into the film.[8][9]



According to Leon, "The script has been following me around for 312 years." He signed on when Gibson was the director at the time. Leon told The Seattle Times, "I was signed more than a year before we actually started."[3][5] 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."[10] At the time of Doug's audition, Chechik was attached as the director.[6] Doug told The Baltimore Sun: "I got the offer to play Sanka, the guy I'd wanted to play from the very beginning."[10]

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."[3] He also told The Baltimore Sun, "I came in to this film at first to coach the players in the authentic accents."[10] Lewis was officially hired in November 1992.[3] 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.[7] Yoba later told Entertainment Weekly that he wrote the Jamaican bobsled song for his audition.[8] 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.[9][11][12] According to Yoba, Scott Glenn was also considered for the role.[7] Cuba Gooding Jr., Jeffrey Wright, and Eriq La Salle were each considered for a role as one of the four Jamaican bobsledders.[8][11]

Filming locations


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 in Jamaica at Discovery Bay and Kingston.[2] 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.'"[3]



A soundtrack album with 11 tracks was released by Sony in 1993 on cassette and 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).

1."Wild Wild Life"Wailing Souls3:36
2."I Can See Clearly Now"Jimmy Cliff3:16
3."Stir It Up"Diana King3:49
4."Cool Me Down"Tiger3:50
5."Picky Picky Head"Wailing Souls4:10
6."Jamaican Bobsledding Chant"Worl-A-Girl4:16
7."Sweet Jamaica"Tony Rebel3:51
8."Dolly My Baby"Super Cat3:32
9."The Love You Want"Wailing Souls3:59
10."Countrylypso"Hans Zimmer2:48
11."The Walk Home"Hans Zimmer4:37
12."Rise Above It"Lock Stock and Barrel3:32



Box office


Cool Runnings debuted at No. 3.[13] 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.

Critical response


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."[14]

Richard Harrington of The Washington Post wrote "a wholesome, engaging, frequently hilarious, ultimately inspirational film."[15]

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."[16] On Metacritic it has a score of 60% based on reviews from 17 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[17] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film a grade A on scale of A to F.[18]



American Film Institute recognition

Historical differences




Jamaica was disqualified by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for late entry into the competition, but pressure from several appeals, including from Prince Albert of Monaco (who competed in the event himself),[19] led to the reversal of the decision, as opposed to an appeal by their coach.

Despite being presented as a medal contender and record setters in the film, Jamaica crashed on their third and penultimate scheduled run and struggled consistently in the competition: out of 26 contesants, they finished 24th, 25th, and 26th, with times of 58.04 seconds (24th), 59.37 seconds (25th), and 1:03 minutes (26th), becoming the only four-man team in the competition to post a time over one minute. They finished 26th overall, with a cumulative time of just over 3 minutes after three runs. If they had taken part in the final run, they would have had to complete a world-record shattering time under 48.00 seconds to win a medal.[20]

The film implies Jamaica as the only country from a tropical climate to compete in bobsleigh at the Olympics; while they were the only Caribbean country to feature in the four-man competition, Netherlands Antilles and two teams from the U.S. Virgin Islands competed in the 38-team two-man competition, who finished 29th, 35th, and 38th, respectively.[21] Two members of the Jamaican team (Dudley Stokes and Michael White) also competed in the two-man sled competition, completing all four runs and finishing in 30th place;[22] Stokes and White were set to compete in two-man bobsleigh event only, with the four-man team entered to compete after the two-man event had already been completed.[19]



In the film, the team crashes due to mechanical and structural failures in the front left blade of their bobsleigh on their third and final run. In reality, the crash occurred on their penultimate run and was deemed to occur due to driver inexperience, excess speed, and regressing the turn too high, which caused the sled to become unstable and top-heavy, leading it to topple onto its left side.

Real footage of the crash was used in the film but was heavily edited, and none of the characters suffered injuries; Stokes described the run and the crash as "disorienting", failing to recall the incident and only realizing they crashed after his fiberglass helmet sustained friction-burn on the ice.[23] The team reached speeds of 130 km/h (81 mph) and their helmets scraped against the wall for 600 m (2,000 ft) until they came to a stop.[24] The film depicts the team carrying the sled to the finish line to a slow-building standing ovation: in reality, the team walked next to it and received some sporadic applause.[25][24]

Home media


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.[26][27] 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.

See also



  1. ^ Lang, Brent (November 6, 2018). "How Chris Meledandri Became the Most Powerful Man in Animation". Variety. Retrieved April 20, 2022.
  2. ^ a b c Galbraith, Jane (September 30, 1993). "From Real Life to Screen Proved Tough Sledding : Movies: Despite being dropped by Columbia and two directors, 'Cool Runnings,' the film about Jamaican snow bobbers, makes it across the finish line". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on February 26, 2011. Retrieved January 12, 2011.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Hartl, John (October 2, 1993). "Some Rough Sledding Making 'Cool Runnings'". The Seattle Times. Retrieved July 23, 2015.
  4. ^ McKnight, Franklin (October 1, 1993). "'Cool Runnings' Tells About Jamaicans' Tough Sledding". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved July 23, 2015.
  5. ^ a b Plumb, Ali. "Leon Robinson: Derice On The Coll Runnings Cafe and Dressing Up As A Zombie". Empire. Archived from the original on July 14, 2015. Retrieved July 23, 2015.
  6. ^ a b Plumb, Ali. "Doug E. Doug: Sanka Himself Reveals Where He Keeps His Lucky Eggs". Empire. Archived from the original on February 11, 2015. Retrieved July 23, 2015.
  7. ^ a b c Plumb, Ali. "Malik Yoba: Yul Brenner On Pride, Power And People Wanting To Draw Lines On His Head". Empire. Archived from the original on February 11, 2015. Retrieved July 23, 2015.
  8. ^ a b c d Highfill, Samantha (February 12, 2014). "'Cool Runnings': An oral history". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved July 23, 2015.
  9. ^ a b "Interview with Actor Rawle D. Lewis, Star of Cool Runnings". February 25, 2010. Archived from the original on July 24, 2015. Retrieved July 23, 2015.
  10. ^ a b c Price, Michael H. (October 6, 1993). "'Cool Runnings': Serious comedy for Doug E. Doug". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved July 23, 2015.
  11. ^ a b Plumb, Ali. "Rawle D. Lewis: Junior Bevil On Talking To Mirrors And Getting Recognized In Pizza Hut". Empire. Archived from the original on February 11, 2015. Retrieved July 23, 2015.
  12. ^ "Interview with Cool Runnings Star Rawle D. Lewis AKA Junior Bevil". YouTube. October 7, 2010. Archived from the original on 2021-12-12. Retrieved December 28, 2015.
  13. ^ Fox, David J. (October 19, 1993). "Weekend Box Office : 'Demolition Man' Fends Off 'Hillbillies'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 30, 2010.
  14. ^ Thomas, Kevin (October 1, 1993). "MOVIE REVIEW : 'Cool': Hot on Trail of Feel-Good Comedy". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 12, 2020.
  15. ^ Harrington, Richard (October 1, 1993). "Cool Runnings - review". The Washington Post. Retrieved June 2, 2020.
  16. ^ Cool Runnings at Rotten Tomatoes
  17. ^ "Cool Runnings". Metacritic.
  18. ^ "COOL RUNNINGS (1993) A". CinemaScore. Archived from the original on 2018-12-20.
  19. ^ a b Atkin, Nick (5 February 2014). "The real Cool Runnings". ESPN.
  20. ^ "Bobsleigh at the 1988 Calgary Winter Games: Men's Four". Archived from the original on April 17, 2020. Retrieved April 10, 2015.
  21. ^ "Online Donors Send Jamaican Bobsled Team To Sochi". NPR. January 22, 2014. Retrieved February 3, 2014.
  22. ^ "Bobsleigh at the 1988 Calgary Winter Games: Jamaica". Archived from the original on April 17, 2020. Retrieved April 10, 2015.
  23. ^ 16x9 - Cool Runnings: Truth Behind Original Jamaican Bobsled Team. YouTube. June 6, 2012. Retrieved December 28, 2015.
  24. ^ a b 16x9 - Cool Runnings: Truth Behind Original Jamaican Bobsled Team. YouTube. 2012-06-06. Retrieved 2015-12-28.
  25. ^ jamaica original bobsled. YouTube. August 16, 2008. Archived from the original on 2021-12-12. Retrieved December 28, 2015.
  26. ^ Joseph Zucker. "Jamaican Bobsled Team Qualifies for 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics". Bleacher Report. Retrieved December 28, 2015.
  27. ^ "Funding woes ease, Jamaicans promise Sochi we fight". Reuters. January 23, 2014. Archived from the original on January 27, 2014. Retrieved January 26, 2014.