The appeal of sports films has always been limited but this tale of the 1988 Jamaican bobsled team is full of feel-good vigorous fun. It's safe to say that the actual events the film is based on have been embellished but this only adds to the warm humour.
Leon plays Derice Bannock, a gifted young runner who fails to qualify for the Jamaican Olympic team. Undeterred, he sets his sights on going to the Winter Olympics in Calgary and embarks on a seemingly hare-brained scheme of reviving a Jamaican bobsled team. His inspiration comes from the tale of his runner father who was unsuccessfully wooed by his friend Irv Blitzer (John Candy) to launch such a squad.
Derice persuades his go-cart champion friend Sanka (Doug E Doug) to help him find Blitzer, now a pool bar bum with no interest in setting up a team. Naturally his resistance doesn't last long and the enthusiastic Derice and Sanka rope him in.
Unbelievable this all may be but the considerable warmth, humour and persistence of the cast soon have you rooting for these underdogs. The fact that they have to train in a crazy bathtub-like barge on wheels adds further fun to the mayhem. Once in Canada they're met with derision but their proud performance is quietly rousing to watch. And if you think that's all a little bit too sugary sounding to be true, then look out for the real TV footage of the event spliced into the film of their final run.
"Cool Runnings" is now available on DVD.