What was John Candy's last funny movie? I'll give you three hints: It was not released this year. It co-starred Steve Martin. It had a lot of vehicles in it and not one of them was a bobsled. Cool Runnings,
a movie about those most unlikely of sports heroes -- the Jamaican Olympic bobsled team -- is often silly but almost never funny -- no matter how often it practices the same jokes. But I have to admit that, facing another winter of Olympian hype and frenzy without the customary, well-deserved, four-year respite, Cool Runnings
piqued my interest. First of all, there's the notion of Candy as a former Winter Olympian. (Summer Olympics -- wrestling, shot put, discus maybe, but Winter...?) And the only memorable moments in the '92 Olympics (France's dazzling, dizzy, Felliniesque opening ceremonies aside) were the clips of the endearingly inept exploits of Eddie the Eagle, England's not-so-soaring ski jumper and Faroud, Morocco's valiant cross-country skier who slipped and slid and wobbled his way across the frozen fields of Grenoble. The Olympic governing committee, when interviewed about these unlikely Olympians, were snobby, stodgy and embarrassed. They would prefer us to snooze through the non-contest of a “Dream Team” vs. anyone else in the world. Cool Runnings
takes a swipe at those ivory tower types, but it lacks any real punch, settling instead for a middle-of-the-road Rocky.
Despite an engaging performance by Leon (as Derice -- the brains, brawn, and conscience of the team) and lovely Jamaican scenery, this movie is nothing more than a good after-school special -- sweet and clean but not too fresh. Now, if they had made a movie about those French bungee dancers or what is was like to walk around in sub-zero temperatures wearing a bunch of plastic inner tubes and huge feather headdresses…