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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
On a very basic level, kids will be introduced to international sports competitions (i.e. the Olympics).
The movie's main message is that even the most outlandish dreams can come true -- the key is to know what you want and work hard for it. Other messages include being true to yourself, learning from your mistakes, and making up for bad behavior.
Positive Role Models
Hardworking underdogs achieve greatness despite long odds against them. A despairing coach who's punished himself for wrongdoing years earlier is able to find hope and redemption through hard work and believing in himself again. Some authority figures are portrayed as ignorant and unforgiving. They, too, learn lessons. There's some stereotyping among athletes from other countries.
Violence & Scariness
A pushcart crashes into a shack. There are a number of bobsled tumbles and crashes -- some are live action, others are taken from actual newsreel footage. One punch in a bar leads to a very brief, cartoon-style brawl with bottles broken over heads/backs and additional punches thrown.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A short scene takes place at a kissing booth.
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Infrequent use of words like "hell," "a--hole," "pee," "crap," "badass," "damn," "hooker," and "Jesus Christ" (as an exclamation).
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Products & Purchases
Products/logos featured include Coca-Cola, American Airlines, ADIDAS sportswear and shoes, Carrera goggles, Red Stripe beer, Easton gloves, Relax Inn, and Ranchman's restaurant.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Men are seen in a bar with mugs of beer in front of them.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that although this underdog sports movie is based on the Jamaican bobsled team's appearance in the 1988 Olympic Games, the characters, most of the situations, and all of the conflict are heavily fictionalized. The resulting feel-good fairytale offers positive messages about sportsmanship, going after your dreams, and believing in yourself ... as well as some cartoonish potrayals of both the Jamaican people and their culture and some of their bobsleddding rivals (particularly the East Germans). A number of bobsled accidents are depicted, and there's one brief barroom brawl -- but no injuries or blood. Expect occasional mild swearing and lots of visible products/logos. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
You've seen this underdog material done before, from the sublime Rocky to the embarrassingly cliched (virtually any Rocky sequel). Cool Runnings taps both qualities. At one end you've got the Jamaican team, a colorful, contrived bunch of squabblers who predictably learn to pull together and defy their detractors (mainly a rival team of stereotyped East German Nazi-Commie storm troopers). But then comes the real-world finale, when the heroes lose the race but achieve a much greater goal, symbolizing what the Olympics truly mean to athletes around the globe. Seldom in sports movies has defeat looked so noble.
Younger viewers may want to learn more about Olympic bobsledding, or Jamaica, if only to sort out the facts from the fiction. The novice 1988 Jamaican bobsledders were actually conceived by a businessman and an ex-diplomat, and they did wipe out in the midst of a spectacular performance. "Irv," however, and the other characters are screenwriter inventions, and they seem like it.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.