Feel the rhythm! Feel the rhyme! Get on up, its bobsled time! COOL RUNNINGS!Cool Runnings is a 1993 live-action Disney film Very Loosely Based on a True Story about the Jamaican Olympic bobsled team.Derice Bannock is a sprinter and wants to compete in the 1988 Olympic Games in athletics, hoping to live up to the legacy of his gold-winning father Ben. However, his competitor, Junior, trips and brings him down along with Yul Brenner (no, not that one) during the qualifying sprint race. The officials refuse to rerun the race, dashing the hopes of Derice and other competitors. The only chance he has to go to the Olympics is to compete in the Winter Olympics in bobsledding.Derice first convinces his friend Sanka to join him, then he finds Irving Blitzer, a surly former bobsledder himself and old friend of his father, who reluctantly agrees to coach him and his team. Irv tries to get out of it by showing a film reel of nothing but sled crashes to a crowd of potential teammates, but all this does is bring Junior and Yul to the team. The rest of the film is about working to overcome their lack of experience, the opposition of the Olympic Committee, the jeering and disbelief of the other teams, the internal struggles within the team, and the cold weather of Canada.The film has some goofy farce and some dramatic moments, though it might lean a bit too much toward the former to qualify as a Dramedy.
This film provides examples of:
- The Ace: The largely unseen Swiss team. Derice idolizes them and tries to model himself after them because they're some of the best athletes in the world.
- An Aesop: Winning is important, but not as important as determination and integrity. If you do things you're not proud of to win, you'll never forgive yourself at best, and feel completely worthless if you're caught.Irving: A gold medal is a wonderful thing, but if you're not enough without it, you'll never be enough with it.Derice: Hey coach, how will I know if I'm enough?Irv: When you cross that finish line tomorrow, you'll know.
- The Alleged Car:
- The bobsled, a rickety old sled that cleans up nicely, but initially looks like crap. It also breaks in the final moments of the last run, costing them a world record.
- Sanka's beat up Volkswagen Beetle.
- Answer Cut: Starting in Mr. Coolidge's office.Derice: Just one more thing...what's a bobsled?
(cut to Derice kicking the wheels off Sanka's push-cart)
Derice: That's a bobsled.
Sanka: Oh, so a bobsled is a push-cart with no wheels!
- Artistic License – Sports/Broad Strokes:
- The Switzerland bobsleigh is shown has having "Schweiz"note painted along the side, instead of "Suisse"note , the one the Swiss teams traditionally use.
- The competition is shown as being decided on three runs over three days, rather than four runs over two days.
- Each sport in the Winter Olympics is organised by their respective world governing body, rather than the "International Alliance of Winter Sports".
- As there is no set length for a bobsleigh run, world records don't exist in the sport.
- The Jamaicans are portrayed as having a chance of a medal before crashing in their final run. In real life, in their final run they would have had to shatter the Olympic record by an unrealistic margin to win bronze.
- In real life the Olympic athletics trials would never have been held 10 months before the Summer Games. They were actually held after the Winter Games.
- With only five men finishing in the 100m Olympic trial, there would have been a vacancy in the six-man 4x100m relay squad. This would surely have been offered to Derice as the Jamaican #1, so he would have gone to the Summer Olympics after all.
- It is implied that Irv's cheating in the 1972 Games got his 1968 gold medals withdrawn. Being disqualified at one Games would not have impacted on his awards from a previous clean performance.
- The Atoner:
- Irv, who was disgraced after cheating at bobsledding in the 1972 games, which ended his career. He seeks to redeem himself with Derice's team.
- Also Junior, who accepts responsibility for the fact that his tripping is what kept the sprinters from going to the Summer Olympics and sells his car in order to fund their trip to Calgary in order to make amends.
- Badass Boast: After Irv declares how impressed he was with Ben Bannock's 100m dash in 10 seconds flat, Derice tells him, "I've run it in 9.9."
- Bald of Awesome: Yul Brenner.
- Bar Brawl: Yul, Junior and Sanka start one with the East German team in a famous cowboy bar after they insult Junior.
- Bittersweet Ending: The Jamaicans crash in their final race, but they prove to their countrymen, their fellow Olympians, and themselves that they are true bobsledders.
- Brand X: The IOC is replaced with the fictional "International Alliance of Winter Sports"
- Bring My Yellow Pants:[after being told to "hold it" by his coach before a run, the team has crashed on the course]Derice: Well, at least you can pee now.Sanka: ...nnn, too late.
- Catch-Phrase: Several phrases are repeated several times. Some of them are changed near the end, to indicate Character Development. For example, "Sanka/Derice, you dead?" "Ya, mon." becomes "No mon, I'm not dead. We have to finish the race... ", while Grool's derisively calling the guys "Jamaica" becomes a term of respect/endearment at the end.
- Cerebus Callback: See Catch-Phrase
- Champions on the Inside: They lost, but they proved they can compete in the Winter Olympics and earned the respect of their global peers.
- Character Development:
- Derice overcomes self-doubt (Trying to imitate the Swiss, wanting to know why Irv cheated when he was an Olympian, and wondering what is "good enough")
- Yul Brenner overcomes his anger at Junior and, for the most part, drops his standoffish behavior.
- Junior gets more self-confident and stands up to his father.
- Irv banishes the demons of his past.
- Sanka overcomes the cold.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Sanka's more on the goofy end of this trope.
- Crazy Enough to Work:Mr. Coolidge: Can you imagine a Jamaican bobsled team?
(Derice starts thinking, "Yeah...")
- Determinator: Derice.Blitzer: Do the words "Give up" mean anything to you?
Derice: Not a thing.
- Did You Die?Derice: Sanka... you dead?Sanka: Ya, mon.
Sanka: Derice... you dead?Derice: No, man. I'm not dead. But we got to finish the race. (they all get up from under the overturned sled and carry it to the finish line)
- Gets a Call-Back near the end of the movie:
- Does This Remind You of Anything?Junior: Seemin' to you nobody likes us?Yul Brynner: We're different. People are always afraid of what's different.
- Dreadlock Rasta: Sanka. Irv sticks him in a freezer at one point to get him used to the Canadian cold, and by the time he gets out, he can break a dreadlock off.
- Exposed to the Elements: The team arrives in Calgary not remotely dressed for a Canadian winter.
- Extreme Doormat: Junior starts off as one until Yul verbally pounds him into standing up for himself with his, "I see pride!" pep talk.
- Failure Montage:
- The first Training Montage, unsurprisingly, is mainly one of these.
- A variation occurs when they're trying to find someone to sponsor their team, which leads to a montage of various company representatives all laughing at them.
- Fantasy-Forbidding Father: Junior's wealthy father stubbornly wants his son to devote his career to lucrative businesses far away from athletic sports.
- Fish out of Water: A group of Jamaicans trying to become a bobsled team?
- Freakier Than Fiction: If the film were created in 1987, how many people would believe it? Lampshaded throughout the film, as many of the characters don't believe it either.
- Germanic Efficiency: The Swiss bobsled team.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: When they get out into the cold in Calgary, Derice reacts to Sanka's breath fogging in the air by asking what he's smoking.
- Hair-Trigger Temper: That's Yul Brenner all over.
- Hates Being Touched: Yul, mostly because he hates everybody. He gets over it.
- Heroic B.S.O.D.: Yul, when Sanka and Junior inform him that the mansion Yul's always dreamed of earning is a photo of Buckingham Palace. Thankfully for Junior's support it does not last through the night.Junior: You go and get your palace, Yul Brenner.
- Historical Villain Upgrade: The East German team wasn't nearly as hostile towards the Jamaican bobsledders in reality.
- I Am X, Son of Y: "My name is Derice Bannock. I'm Ben Bannock's son."
- I Was Quite a Looker: When Derice shows Irv the old photo of him with Ben Bannock (Derice's father), Irv admires his long-gone looks for a moment, then catches his current reflection in the frame glass.Irv: (looks at his picture) Heh, would you look at me then? (sees his reflection) Oof, would you look at me now?
- Improvised Training: For starters, the makeshift bobsled on wheels they practice on in Jamaica.
- Insult of Endearment: Yosef Grul's use of "Jamaica" for Derice evolves from dismissal to respect over the course of the movie.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Yul.
- Keep It Foreign: In the undubbed version, the Swiss bobsledders speak standard German (Hochdeutsch)note . In the German-dubbed version, the Swiss have a strong Swiss accent, as does the Jamaicans imitating them.
- Moving the Goalposts: The Powers That Be do this to try to keep Jamaica from qualifying. First, they keep shortening the time requirements. When Jamaica makes the cut anyway, they try to claim that it doesn't count. Irv calls them on it big time, and they relent.
- Named After Somebody Famous: Yul Brenner's just one letter away.
- Lampshaded by Irv Blitzer's reaction upon hearing Yul's name.
- National Stereotypes: Jamaicans are cool, while German-speaking competitors are disciplined.
- No OSHA Compliance: Irv runs a clip about bobsledding, which happens to demonstrate just how dangerous it is.
- Oh, Crap!:
- When Sanka first reads about bobsledding, he reads the word "ice" and shits a brick.
- Derice upon witnessing some of the crashes shown in Irv's bobsledding presentation.
- Derice's reaction when his wife shows up at the kissing booth. And then Sanka's reaction when he sees that the next woman in line is both very elderly and apparently toothless.
- The four Jamaicans upon seeing their first Canadian winter. See Up to Eleven.
- One-Sided Arm-Wrestling: Yul Brenner has a montage where he effortlessly beats opponent after opponent for money so the team can travel to Canada for qualifiers. Then he is struggling and ultimately bested by... a large, burly woman.
- On Three: Derice doing this in German (to mimic the Swiss) throws his teammates off their game.
- Opposing Sports Team: Pretty much everyone else in the Winter Olympics, but mainly East Germany.''You have no business here, Jamaica!"
- Patriotic Fervor: Pride in Jamaican heritage is a consistent theme throughout the movie, including in the movie’s Rousing Speech and culminating in the following quote:Announcer: Where did these guys come from?Bar Crowd: JAMAICA!!!
- Polar Bears and Penguins: "You mean winter, as in Eskimos and igloos and penguins and ICE?"
- Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Derice and his boys slowly go from this to Fire-Forged Friends.
- Reality Is Unrealistic: Not only is Jamaica not the first tropical country to compete in the Winter Olympics (that would be Mexico way back in 1928), but the idea of Jamaicans in Canada is not as far-fetched as the movie implies. Canada has a very large Jamaican population, to the point that one in three Black Canadians are of Jamaican descent.
- Revenge by Proxy: Blitzer notices this, and prevents it from going ahead.
- Rousing Speech: Sanka gives a minor one prior to their second race about the importance of remembering their Jamaican heritage, despite their hostile treatment.
- Running Gag:
- "Sanka... You dead?"
- "Greetings, Sled God!"
- Sanka's general struggles with the ICE.
- Scary Black Man: Yul.
- Shout-Out: The film title is inspired by a line from Bob Marley's song "Blackman Redemption" from his album Confrontation.
- Slow Clap: Started by East Germany's bobsledder near the ending.
- Stealth Hi/Bye: Taken Up to Eleven during the recruitment meeting. After Irv has shown and discusses the injury and death potential of bobsledding, the lights come on to reveal that all the attendees have split.
- Stock Footage: The real team's footage was used in the Olympic competition scenes and the crash scene was the real crash.
- Strictly Formula: Though Tropes Are Not Bad. Quoth The Nostalgia Chick:"You will never see a more beautifully, perfectly, compellingly formulaic sports movie that even people who don't like sports movies - like me - will like. The characters aren't really characters so much as they're just... archetypes."
- Sure, Let's Go with That: The real life Jamaican bobsled team admitted that their crash was human error and that they lost fair and square; they jokingly approved of the movie's version where it was a faulty sled.
- Teach Him Anger:Yul: I see PRIDE! I see POWER! I see a badass mutha who don't take no crap off of NOBODY!
- Technician Vs Performer: The Swiss and East German teams are technicians; the Jamaicans are performers. One of those instances where the performers lose (though they nearly win), but still earn the technicians' respect.
- Title Drop: The team's mantra and rallying cry is Cool Runnings, which Derice explains means "peace be the journey."
- It's also the name of their sled, after Junior's suggestion of "Tallulah" is met with laughter until he explains that it's his mother's name.
- Training Montage: One when they're practicing the push start while in Jamaica, and one when they're training in Calgary.
- Travelling Salesman Montage: Trying to get corporate sponsorship, everyone just laughs at them.note
- Took a Level in Kindness: Yul became notably more laid-back during the middle of the movie.
- Trick Dialogue: Junior practicing talking to his father … with his dog.
- Truth in Television: Jamaica's team has at times held the push record for bobsled, they beat major competitors in 1994, and Jamaican-born Lascalles Brown is an Olympic medalist for Canada.
- Undercrank: Used for comedic effect during the team's arrival sequence at Calgary.
- Underdogs Never Lose: Averted. They transcended the need to win. (And a pretty unique way of being underdogs, too.)
- Up to Eleven: When faced with the Calgary winter, Sanka puts on everything in his clothing bag. Then he puts on his clothing bag.
- Very Loosely Based on a True Story:
- Instead of the unanimous derision depicted in the film, the international Olympic community welcomed the Jamaicans with open arms, providing them with equipment and coaching, and one of the most supportive teams in real life was...that of East Germany.
- Outside of the crash footage at the climax of the film and the fact that Jamaica had an Olympic bobsled team that year, just about everything else—including the names of the actual participants—was a fictionalized creation.
- Welcome to the Caribbean, Mon!: At least, for the first act of the movie. Afterwards, we get the occasional shot of friends and family at home cheering their boys on.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Junior.
- Worthy Opponent: Josef Grool finally recognizes the Jamaicans, and especially Derice, as this.Grool: Very good, Jamaica. We'll see you in four years, ja?
Derice: Yah, mon.
"Sanka! Ya dead?"