We now take you out to the cinema’s Olympic venues for a roundup of the day's competition.
Over at the bobsled run, Jamaica has incredibly and with a notable number of laughs overcome obstacles of climate, financial shortcoming, technological inferiority, social and racial prejudice, and having John Candy as your coach to make a respectable showing. The film that launched an assembly line of Disneyfied real-life sports stories (Remember the Titans, The Rookie, Glory Road, Invincible, this spring’s Million Dollar Arm), 1993's Cool Runnings remains the most cherished and memorable. Those who have seen it have a hard time not finishing this line: "Nuff people say, you know they can't believe..." And we can still hear those cold, unforgiving Swiss giving the Jamaicans a textbook slow clap.
Meanwhile, an astonishing result was recorded in ice hockey. The underdog, scrappy, wholly unprepared Americans, led by journeyman coach Herb Brooks, have dropped the imposing Russian superteam, 4-3. Miracle is another entry in that Disney pipeline, with Rocky IV levels of American athletic largess, patriotism, and over-grand soundtrack work, all at the expense of those stone-faced Soviets. Only this upset happened, and apart from the soon-to-be-host Russians, who does not love to relive the “Miracle on Ice,” one of the great Olympic moments? Nevermind that the U.S. still has to play Finland for the gold.
In a surprise move, the Olympic organizers this year allowed a youth hockey division to compete for medals. After a shaky start in the competition, Gordon Bombay’s young American squad have stymied Wolf "The Dentist" Stansson and his crew of harsh-looking Icelanders in a 4-3 shootout win, earning the gold. At least, I think it was the Americans. In a fit of cross-promotion for a then-Disney-owned NHL franchise, the Team USA of D2: The Mighty Ducks changed jerseys during the second intermission. Not so much for the honor and glory of representing your country, then. The kids prefer to play for a monolithic corporate entity.
Speaking of hockey stars, can you believe what happened in figure skating? Doug Dorsey, former member of the U.S. national hockey team, has returned to the rink as the partner of promising but downright prickly pairs skater Kate Moseley, making the Olympic team after a rival skater tripped on her partner’s lederhosen. What an up-and-down ride it has been for this misfit pairing from one the most beloved and oft-sequeled winter sports movies, The Cutting Edge. Especially since the stadium lights went out right after they finished their final routine. Their score has yet to be recorded.
In other figure skating news: this happened. And this. And this.
Over on the slopes, notoriously cocky American skier David Chappellet – who could seriously be a skiwear model – drubbed Austrian favorite Max Meier to top the Olympic podium. A satiric send up of the American sports dream, Downhill Racer celebrates individuality and brute selfishness over the communal achievement inherent in the Olympic movement. That strange juxtaposition has relegated to obscurity Robert Redford and Gene Hackman’s strong performances. Honestly, when you look like this, how could you not make the case for individual exceptionalism?
Finally, we have the highlights from the post-primetime broadcast. A band of small-town Canadians triumph in life, love, comedy, and magic mushroom farming through the unexpected metaphor of curling. Sure, Men with Brooms is not an Olympic movie, but the choice of curling movies is noticeably thin. Meanwhile, in biathlon…
Really, there is no movie for a sport that combines riflery and cross-country skiing. Honorable mention must be made for 007’s snow-and-shoot prowess, however, be it in escaping Telly Savalas in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, enjoying a myriad of Olympic sport courses in For Your Eyes Only, delivering a classic bond zinger in The World is Not Enough, and finishing an impressive chase with one of the great cinematic escapes in The Spy Who Loved Me.
To review the day’s Olympic action, then, the USA earned gold in the downhill and youth ice hockey. The UK unexpectedly triumphed where guns were involved. Jamaica recorded a DNF in bobsledding, and we are still awaiting the results from figure skating. Here is hoping the Sochi Olympics are as entertaining.