How Accurate Is The Movie Cool Runnings?

Sports movies have been a thing for almost as long as movies have been a thing, going as far back as the silent movie era, according to Hollywood Insider. Since then, many great movies have had to do with real sporting events and/or real people involved in them. For example, there's "Rudy," the based-on-a-true-story adaptation of the story of Notre Dame football player Daniel "Rudy" Ruettiger (per IMDB), or "Remember The Titans," based loosely on the story of a Virginia high school football team and their 1971 season (also per IMDB).

One of the most popular sports movies to be based on a true story is 1993's "Cool Runnings," a Disney adaptation of the story of the 1988 Jamaican bobsled team. And while sports movies that purport to be based on true stories often take liberties with the facts -– sometimes huge liberties -– the Disney movie retains only the basic structure of the true story for the film. Other than the fact that there really was a bobsled team from Jamaica that competed in 1988, pretty much everything else in the movie is fiction.

Cool Runnings fictionalized most of the story but used some real footage

"Cool Runnings" may have been an enjoyable film with memorable scenes and quotable lines, but as a piece of historical documentary, it leaves a lot to be desired. Pretty much the only thing true in the entire film, according to Business Insider, is the structural basis for the story. 

For example, the names of the four competitors were changed, as was their origin story — they weren't sprinters who took up bobsledding on their own, but rather, were recruited from the Jamaican army. Similarly, the film leans heavily into the idea that the four Black men from the tropics were outcasts among their largely Nordic, largely white competitors in Calgary, when in fact they were welcomed with open arms. Similarly, the film portrays the men as having to climb into freezers to experience cold for the first time in their lives, while in reality at least one of them, Devon Harris, had done a stint in England during his time in the army, and said the cold "punched me in the face and my heart," as he told Inside Edition

One thing the film did get right is the team's crash, and indeed, Disney even used actual footage from the Olympics and showed it in the film. Fortunately, no one was seriously injured in the incident.