Making the Grades
A Walt Disney movie, Cool Runnings is based upon the true story of the Jamaican bobsled team that competed in the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Alberta. Personally, not knowing the complete story of the actual team, I can only trust that the basis for fact in this movie ends at the point of the existence of the team. Going any further than that seems too coincidental, and unbelievable.
Cool Runnings follows the standard sports movie formula. It has the underdogs with the no-good coach going against every obstacle imaginable. With each setback, they become stronger, their will becomes tougher, and their uniforms become nicer. However, when it comes time for the big match that is evident in all sports movies, Cool Runnings gives us a break and saves the viewer from the usual first place ending.
In fact, the ending has a great lesson, that although taught many times in the past, is worth teaching many times again. With an emphasis on, "how you play the game," the movie teaches the importance of sportsmanship and determination. It's a fun movie, that shows how getting to your destination is just as enjoyable and worthwhile as achieving the final goal.
Language is the main concern, with the use of many mild obscenities, even though the Jamaican accents do their best to make the words sound less coarse. The only violence is a barroom brawl, probably so the producer could portray Calgary as a place in the west (although I had to smile as the team arrived in the airport to a flurry of French announcements on the PA system).
The late John Candy stars as the coach, and does a fine job in the comic scenes, but Candy could never act well in a serious moment, and doesn't break that record here. But don't rent Runnings to see Candy, get the movie if you are looking for a feel good film that leaves a message of determination.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Cool Runnings.
To learn more bout the real Jamaican Bobsled team, click here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jamaica_national_bobsled_team