SBS Film Vault: Cool Runnings

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Published on : March 26, 2016



The best movie about bobsledding ever. I dare you to name another. I’ll wait while you look it up. Cool Runnings has it all: jokes, laughs, humor, redemption, John Candy. And no, I didn’t photoshop that picture. Let’s once again crack the SBS Film Vault and dissect one of the coolest pieces of sports cinema.


If you haven’t seen this retro masterpiece then do it. If you’re pressed for time then watch the trailer. It pretty much gives the whole movie away. I’d say it holds up pretty well. Is that 1993 or 2016? I can’t tell the difference. Looks HD to me.



There are some crazy racial stereotypes all over this flick. Back when it was okay for Disney to put stuff like that in kid’s movies. You mostly have to look past that junk. Generally speaking, the narrative is positive and preaches a story of inclusion. That’s the thing about sports that I truly love. It’s power to bring people of different backgrounds together. Just like the Olympics or in this case, the winter games.


This is John Candy’s version of A League of Their Own but with Jamaicans instead of women. Another classic underdog story where we spend most of the time seeing these outsiders fail in a hilarious ways until they put it all together. Earning the respect of their Nordic bullies in the process. There are many great scenes but I think we all remember them training in the bathtub as a real standout moment. It’s imagery like this that keeps Cool Runnings in the zeitgeist. And it’s pretty funny.


cool runnings bathtub


I think we like stories like this because it reminds us that we can succeed in areas we have never tried. That is the promise of hope. That maybe you are a great bobsledder or writer or chef and you don’t even know it yet. We all want to believe there is untapped potential still ahead of us. Isn’t that a warm thought? This is a message we as a people need to hear more. Call me corny, just don’t call me late for dinner.



I will discuss the end of the movie in medium to light detail. Be warned. But also keep reading anyway. It’s rude to stop this far in.



I dig the end because it follows the Rocky model where they don’t win the big game but they get the emotional win and finish with pride. Because sometimes going the distance is enough to change perception. These types of endings are great and realistic. I always give a filmmaker credit for having the guts to wrap their feel-good story up with a loss. It takes real chops. But Any Given Sunday nails it. And those bittersweet conclusions are what sports movies are all about.


The takeaway is don’t write off anyone and don’t write off this movie. Behind the goofy exterior is a lion’s heart. And a dream of a better tomorrow.


Feel the rhythm, feel the rhyme, get on up! It’s bobsled time!



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