Eight Great Winter Olympic Flicks
I love me some Olympics. Summer or Winter it doesn’t matter I’ll do my part to watch whatever I can. Remember the ‘Simul-Cast’ mess the network tried to foist on us a few years ago? Yeah, it’s still kinda like that but now you can find the more, shall we say, obscure sporting events on NBC’s brother and sister networks: NBC Sports Network, MSNBC, CNBC, and USA.
Anyway… where was I? Oh right, as of this past Friday, we’ve been privy to the Winter Olympics and they’re already off to a pretty cool start. See what I did there? But let’s just assume for a second that you’d like to check out some sweet flicks with the Winter Games as the backdrop, where would you turn? How about right here.
8) Ice Castles – 1978
Word of warning: this is far and away the heaviest ‘Chick Flick’ on this list. Your woman will sob like a baby. Anyway, it is the story of Alexis (Lynn-Holly Johnson), a young figure skater, and her rise and fall from super stardom. Tragedy strikes when, following a freak accident, Lexie loses her sight, leaving her to hide away in the privacy of her own despair. But soon Robbie Benson steps in to save the day (gag) by being a dick, and Lexi eventually perseveres and begins competing in figure skating again.
7) One In a Million – 1936
In 1928 Sonja Henie won Olympic gold and went on to do so again in 1936 even after strong competition. Soon after her final Olympics Henie was cast along side Adolphe Menjou and Don Ameche as a figure skater (a stretch) brought to New York to perform.
6) Downhill Racer – 1969
The character Robert Redford plays, David Chappellet, is a very bleak and grimly determined individual. When David goes home to visit his father we see where he gets his ‘emotional’ approach to living. His dad is a dickish sad-sack to say the least. Their conversations are so minimalist as to be nearly autistic. There was something I liked about this character and you can’t help but find yourself rooting for him. What else would there even have been to this story if he hadn’t won at the end? Just a bunch of skiing.
5) The Cutting Edge – 1992
Okay, my wife just reminded me that this is even more Chick-Flick-ish than Ice Castles. Man and I’ve seen this, too. Oh well. Kate (Moira Kelly) is a talented and bitchy-spoiled figure skater. She and her coach have eliminated her most recent partner with little time to find a replacement. None of the candidates will do, and her coach finds a bruised college hockey player (D.B. Sweeney) with no figure skating experience as a last resort. The two are from totally different worlds and argue perpetually, but his strong work ethic brings both her father and her coach around. The two enter international competition trying out a new routine that is quite difficult for each of them as their respect for each other finally begins to grow. Yep, sappy.
4) For Your Eyes Only – 1981
Though tenuously connected to the 1980 Lake Placid Games, this Bond flick still fills the ‘close enough’ bill here. Oh, and for a round about explanation, check this out. A British spy trawler is accidentally sunk off the coast of a Warsaw pact county. On board is a hi-tech encryption device called an ATAC which the British use to send launch instructions to their Polaris fleet. The British send agent James Bond to investigate but once the Soviets learn of the loss the race is on to recover the device at any cost. Go Olympics!
3) Blades of Glory – 2007
When a rivalry between the world’s best men’s figure skaters – sex addicted, improvisational Chazz Michael Michaels (Will Ferrell) and germophobic, precise Jimmy MacElroy (Jon Heder) – breaks into a fight on the awards platform, they’re banned from the event for life. Three years later, desire for a gold medal and a careful re-reading of the rules lead them to compete as skating’s first male-male pair. Can they overcome mutual dislike, limited time to prepare, their coach’s secret past, and the dirty tricks of their main opponents, the Van Waldenberg siblings (Amy Poehler and Will Arnett)? The key to victory or defeat may lie in the attraction of the virginal Jimmy toward Katie, the Van Waldenbergs’ little sister. Or maybe the dreaded ‘Iron Lotus’. Pretty funny.
2) Cool Runnings – 1993
A Jamaican bobsled team? WTF? Ha ha anyway, when the Jamaican sprinter Derice Bannock (Leon) is disqualified from the Olympic Games due to a stupid accident, he envisions the chance to participate in bobsled history. He meets the dishonored coach Irving Blitzer (John Candy), who is living in Jamaica, mon, after two gold medals and elimination due to cheating, and convinces him to coach the first (wait for it…) Jamaican Bobsled Team. They form a group with the push-cart driver Sanka Coffie (Doug E. Doug), the sprinter Yul Brenner (Malik Yoba) and the rich Junior Bevil (Rawle D. Lewis) and without any sponsor, fly to Calgary, Alberta, Canada to participate in the XV Olympic Winter Games at -25o C. In the end, they become winners without winning the game. It’s a damn tragedy.
1) Miracle – 2004
Kurt Russell stars as coach Herb Brooks in a true story of the 1980 U.S. Olympic men’s ice hockey team winning the gold medal by defeating the uber-powerful Soviet Union and Finland teams at the Lake Placid Games. Brooks puts together a team of college kids and begins to get them into shape by retraining his team in the European style of playing the game. With all his hard training, he finally turns these kids into the U.S. Olympic team, and a family (weep). The team defeats the Soviet Union in the semifinal round by not allowing them a single goal for the last 10 minutes of the game. With the world watching the game on TV, Al Michaels asks his famous question at the end of the game, `Do you believe in miracles? Yes!’ We all know this one. Excellent flick.