(In French, On TV, December 2019) There’s one theory of comedy that states that it comes from the surprise of matching two disparate ideas, and if you agree with that then it’s easy to see why Cool Runnings is amusing even from its premise. What if tropical Jamaica decided to field a bobsled team at the Winter Olympics? It’s not that ridiculous a premise (Jamaica has often competed in the winter Olympics, albeit not competitively—but you can see how athletes can adapt their physical abilities to other sports if they can train where there’s ice and snow) but such nuances are not the kind of material that Cool Runnings goes for—it will spend the strict minimum amount of time to justify its premise (loosely inspired by real-life events) and no more. Far more of a comedy than a sports movie, this is not about the Jamaican team winning against impossible odds, but never giving up all the way to an honourable finish. Helmed according to a strictly competent formula by Jon Turteltaub, the film hits its targets and makes good use of its element. The Jamaican atmosphere is convincing, and the use of reggae music does pleasantly permeate the film. As a Canadian, I was surprisingly pleased by many specific elements of the film. True to its inspiration, it takes place at the 1988 Calgary Olympic games, leading to the curiously nostalgic sight of an old-school Coles airport bookstore. John Candy also stars as a disgraced coach in one of his last films, leading further Canadian credentials to the results. While Cool Runnings is very much in the safe mainstream comedy film tradition, it does everything right, is funny when it counts and has the good sense to go for uplifting underdog inspiration as its climax. Not a great film, but one that can be watched easily enough by the entire family.