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Cool Runnings

Movie review by
Charles Cassady Jr., Common Sense Media
Cool Runnings Movie Poster Image
Delightful, tween-friendly story of Jamaican bobsledders.
  • PG
  • 1993
  • 98 minutes
Popular with kidsParents recommend

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 8 reviews

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 18 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

On a very basic level, kids will be introduced to international sports competitions (i.e. the Olympics).

Positive Messages

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 & Representations

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.

Sexy Stuff

A short scene takes place at a kissing booth.


Infrequent use of words like "hell," "a--hole," "pee," "crap," "badass," "damn," "hooker," and "Jesus Christ" (as an exclamation).


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.

What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 8, 8, and 10 year old Written byNondug February 20, 2011

My kids loved it.

Funny story of the Jamaican bobsledders. The characters have to work hard and overcome struggle. Interesting look at a different culture (OK, a cartoonish repr... Continue reading
Adult Written byjoseboy6799 August 16, 2012

cool runnings

cool film, got a positve messege to it, but is it a true story? cant tell!! still good. will attract kids. fighting in the bar but apart from that good!!
Teen, 15 years old Written byShinjo April 9, 2008
Teen, 15 years old Written byCSM Screen Name... April 9, 2008

Loved it

This is a great movie!!! I loved it! they do swear in this movie though!

What's the story?

COOL RUNNINGS is loosely based on the real-life 1988 Jamaican bobsled team. When an accident prevents Derice Bannock (Leon) from making Jamaica's Olympic track team, he searches for another way to compete. Derice convinces Irv Blitzer (John Candy), a former gold medalist, to coach his team. The team overcomes some serious setbacks to make it to the Olympic games.

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.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why the filmmakers made things up for the movie, rather than sticking with the true story. Why do you think that happens?

  • Is bobsledding as engaging a sport as football, baseball, or basketball? Why or why not?

  • What is the movie saying about sportsmanship and the spirit of the Olympic Games?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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