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Film: Cool Runnings

Feel the rhythm! Feel the rhyme! Get on up, its bobsled time! COOL RUNNINGS!

Cool Runnings is a live-action Disney film Very Loosely Based on a True Story about the Jamaican bobsled team.

Derice is a sprinter and wants to compete in the 1988 Olympic Games in athletics. 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 former bobsledder himself, who reluctantly agrees to coach him and his team. Coach does try to get out of it by showing a film of nothing but sled crashes to a crowd of people trying out, but in the end, 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 is as funny as it is serious, and manages to do both well.

This film provides examples of:

  • The Ace: The largely unseen Swiss team.
  • The Alleged Car: The bobsled.
    • Sanka's beat up Volkswagen Beetle.
  • Arc Words: "You dead?"
  • Bald of Awesome: Yul Brenner.
  • Bar Brawl set in a famous cowboy bar.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • Junior gets more self-confident.
    • Irv banishes the demons of his past.
    • Sanka overcomes the cold.
  • Colbert Bump: Thanks to the everlasting popularity this movie has, the real Jamaican bobsled teams always get a nice share of exposure every time they qualify for the Olympics.
  • Completely Different Title: According to Google Translate, foreign titles translate as Rasta Rockett (France), The Apprentice Champions, Jamaica Below Zero (Portugal, Israel and Latin America), Reggae on Ice (Poland), Running Below Zero, Coconuts on Ice (Czech Republic) and Ice Trek.
    • The Russian title of the film is Cool Turns/Banks (although the Russian word for the slang "cool" can also literally mean "sharp", which works too).
  • Crazy Enough to Work
  • 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)
  • 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
  • Exposed to the Elements: The team arrives in Calgary not remotely dressed for a Canadian winter.
  • Fake Nationality: The four Jamaican bobsledders are all played by American actors. Meanwhile, Canadian John Candy plays American Irv Blitzer, while fellow Canadian Peter Outerbridge plays East German Josef Grool.
  • Five-Man Band
  • 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.
  • Heroic BSOD: Yul had this when his life's goal is shattered when Sanka and Junior informs him that the photo of the place he has dreamed so much to live in is the photo of the Buckingham Palace. Thankfully for Junior's support it does not last through the night.
  • 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.
  • Improvised Training
  • Keep It Foreign: In the undubbed version, the Swiss bobsledders speak standard German (Hochdeutsch). In the German-dubbed version, the Swiss have a strong Swiss accent, as does the Jamaicans imitating them.
  • Named After Somebody Famous: Yul Brenner's just one letter away.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Opposing Sports Team: Pretty much everyone else in the Winter Olympics, but mainly East Germany.
    ''You have no business here, Jamaica!"
  • Polar Bears and Penguins: "You mean winter, as in Eskimos and igloos and penguins and ICE?"
  • Revenge by Proxy: Blitzer notices this, and prevents it from going ahead.
  • Running Gag: "Sanka... You dead?"
    • "Greetings, Sled God!"
    • Sanka's general struggles with the ICE.
  • Scary Black Man: Yul
  • Slow Clap: started by East Germany's bobsledder near the ending.
  • Stock Footage: The real team's footage was used in the Olympic competition scenes and the crash scene was the real crash.
  • Strictly Formula: 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 jokingly approved of the movie's version where it was a faulty sled.
  • Teach Him Anger: "I see PRIDE! I see POWER! I see a badass mutha who don't take no crap off of NOBODY!"
  • 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. In Real Life, a beer company supported them.
  • 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.
  • 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, especially the East Germans.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: Junior.

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alternative title(s): Cool Runnings
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