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Gold medal movies - 5 cinematic sidebars to the Winter Olympics

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The Winter Olympics are upon us. There’s no doubt that we will soon be up to our eyeballs in event coverage. However, you might find yourself looking for a brief respite maybe you realize that you’re not that interested in watching the middle 8K of the 10,000-meter Nordic skiing final or the qualifying rounds in women’s skeleton or the Norway/Finland curling match.

(Who are we kidding? Everybody wants to watch curling.)

Say you want that break, but you don’t want to lose that Winter Olympics state of mind that you’ve been waiting since Sochi to feel again what do you do? 

Why, watch a Winter Olympics-themed movie of course.

Granted, pickings are kind of slim - there just haven’t been that many Winter Olympics movies made. However, the ones that have all possess their own charms. Some more than others, as you’ll see. Here are five that you might enjoy.

(Please note: this list does not include “I, Tonya” – you can read a full review of that film elsewhere in this week’s edition.)

 

Miracle (2004)

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that “Miracle” is the greatest Winter Olympics-related movie ever made. Not only does it tell the story of the most dramatic Winter Olympics moment in United States history - the “Miracle On Ice” hockey game against the USSR at the Lake Placid Games in 1980 - but it actually does it justice. With Kurt Russell rocking the helmet hair and plaid pants as team coach Herb Brooks and actors who actually looked like they could stand up on ice skates, this movie brings us the perfect blend of on-ice and off-ice action. And if you don’t get tingly when Mike Eruzione tells Coach Brooks what team he plays for, then we’re no longer friends, because I don’t associate with soulless automatons.

Cool Runnings (1993)

Try as I might, I have little to no objectivity when it comes to this movie. If I were to see it for the first time today, I might well be able to recognize what I am sure is a multitude of flaws. But I have no time machine, so I am incapable of thinking of this movie with anything other than pure unadulterated delight. I mean, come on John Candy as the drunken disgraced former Canadian bobsledder with one last chance to redeem his legacy? Characters with names like Yul Brenner and Sanka Coffie? Dreads and bobsleds, mon what’s not to like? Sure, the movie is incredibly dated and the “based on a true story” label is generous to say the least, but so what? Jamaican bobsled team! And they’re competing in Sochi! 

The Cutting Edge (1992)

We can talk all day about how cheesy and sappy this movie is, or how ludicrously unlikely the premise might be. We can discuss the stilted dialogue or the physical impossibility that is the Pamchenko Twist. Is it a good movie? Not really. Is it eminently watchable? You better believe it. This story of ice queen figure skater Kate Moseley (Moira Kelly) and former ice hockey player Doug Dorsey (D.B. Sweeney) is the best cinematic love story about pairs figure skating that you’ll ever see. As an added bonus, it has the guy who played Locke on “Lost” as Kate’s douche father. It is also the only reason I have even a vague notion of what the hell a toe pick is. (Feel free to disregard the straight-to-video sequels, by the way.)

Eddie the Eagle (2016)

This one is the most recent offering of the bunch, but there’s a lot to like here. Taran Egerton, of “Kingsman” movie fame, stars as legendary ski jumper Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards, the British ski jumper who overcame all manner of obstacles (including a complete absence of talent) to make his way onto his country’s Olympic team for the 1988 Games in Calgary. It’s a wonderful, inspirational story – one that taps into the underdog theme shared by a lot of the movies on this list. It also has Hugh Jackman as a drunken failed American ski jumper, which certainly doesn’t hurt. It’s got some flaws, but some great moments too. And it’s a reminder that between Eddie and the Jamaican bobsledders, the 1988 Winter Olympics had the best underdog stories.

Blades of Glory (2007)

If you prefer your Winter Olympics-themed comedies less “based on a true story” and more “based on a Will Ferrell fever dream,” then “Blades of Glory” is the obvious choice. Ferrell stars as Chazz Michael Michaels, the bad boy of men’s figure skating. When he and Jimmy MacElroy (Jon Heder) get banned from singles competition, they decide to take their shot at golden glory as the first male-male pairs team. Yes, it will probably be remembered as Will Ferrell’s creative nadir (which is really saying something), but hey it’s about ice skating and the Winter Olympics. And it gave Napoleon Dynamite a chance to cash another check before we collectively realized that he’s actually kind of terrible. So really, you’re doing a public service. Watch this movie so Jon Heder can stave off irrelevance (and eviction) for one more month.

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