The Good and The Bad of Hollywood and Ski/Snowboard Movies.
We’ve covered Hollywood and Surf Films before (tagline: So Bad They’re Good), and so with the winter approaching in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s time to look at LaLa Land’s approach to skiing and snowboarding. 

In a data set that swooshes from truly terrible to weirdly watchable, we’ve only included fictional films that have either skiing or snowboarding as central to the plot. We’ve ignored the many excellent documentaries (we recommend The Crash Reel and McConkey), core ski/snowboard flicks (ie the seminal The Art of Flight) or where skiing has been a minor backdrop or scene (James Bond in View to a Kill, Inception, Dumb and Dumber et all). The rest, in order of watchability, is as follows. 

Eddie The Eagle 

This film dramatised the life of Michael Edwards, better known as "Eddie the Eagle”. He was an English ski jumper who in 1988 became the first competitor since 1928 to represent Great Britain in Olympic ski jumping. He became a cult hero after finishing last in the 70m and 90m events. With a plucky, true underdog story, and a cast that included Taron Egerton, Hugh Jackman and Christopher Walken, the 2016 film garnered solid critical acclaim and plenty of laughs.  

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Chalet Girl

Billed as the Blue Crush of the ski and snowboard world, the 2011 film had a stellar cast including Bill Nighy, Brooke Shields, Sophia Bush and Felicity Jones. It tells the story of a girl who heads to the Alps to work as a chalet girl and ends up becoming a professional snowboarder. Sure, this is no Citizen Kane, but with just-about-credible action scenes, solid acting and St Anton as a backdrop, it has largely stood the test of time. The Guardian called it, “amiable, silly, feelgood stuff,” which in this genre, is high praise indeed.

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Cool Runnings

The 1993 film was loosely based on the debut of the Jamaican national bobsleigh team at the 1988 Winter Olympics. John Candy (his last film before he died) played the coach of a novice four-man bobsleigh team from Jamaica. The film received positive reviews for its humour, tone, and cast performances and grossed a remarkable $154.9 million worldwide. Now, sure, it is not exactly ski or snowboarding-based, but when the Washington Post calls it "a wholesome, engaging, frequently hilarious, ultimately inspirational film,” it's worth putting in a film where Hollywood actually got winter sports bang on.


No, not the favourite film of your 6-year-old niece (unless she’s a pyscho-in-training) but the underrated 2010 indie/horror film. The plot sees three friends stranded on a chairlift after the resort closes for a week. As night falls, they're left dangling above the ground and forced to make life-or-death choices that prove more perilous than freezing to death. It’s a cool concept and well-executed. It made headlines at its Sundance premiere when numerous audience members fainted due to the psychological tension. Critic Richard Roeper called the film, "an entertaining, suspense-filled, sometimes wonderfully grotesque little scarefest,” which is good, right?

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Out Cold

The 2001 comedy was the directional debut of Brendan and Emmett Malloy, better known for their music videos and the classic surf movie Thicker Than Water. The brothers aimed the film as a parody of 1990s frat boy films like Ski School. Starring Lee Majors, Zack Galifianakis and Playboy star Victoria Silvestedt, the plot tells of a ski resort that’s bought by a new owner who starts to change things for the worse. The employees fight back, with romance involved. It gets credit for featuring snowboarding from real-life pros such as Tara Dakides and Devun Walsh, but its gross-out humour and sophomoric plot, didn’t resonate with either snowboarders or the mainstream. It's 8 per cent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes probably gives a good idea of its quality.

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Snowboard Academy

If you thought Out Cold was bad, well it makes 1997’s Snowboard Academy look like Synecdoche. The elevator pitch was “Police Academy on Ice”, with a “plot line” that features the owner of a struggling ski resort opening it to snowboarders and starting a snowboard school. 1980s child star Corey Haim and Bridgett Neilsen deliver the poor script with less enthusiasm than a chair lift leading to one IMDb reviewer writing, “If you absolutely have to watch this, be warned that you will have more fun setting fire to your genitals.”

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Fire and Ice

Speaking of fire, in 1986 German Willy Bognor, the man behind the early James Bond movies, raised some serious budget and created an entire action (and plot-free) movie made of freestyle skiing stunts, many of which involved six-time Freestyle World Cup winner John Eaves jumping through fire and flame. We'll give credit for the involvement of snowboard pioneer Tom Sims and the sheer, utter, madness of it all. One reviewer, accurately, described the film as, “A delicious cinematic sandwich of narrative minimalism and coke-fuelled excess.”

He gets even more cred for somehow funding a sequel and getting ex-007 Roger Moore to play the lead. In many ways “Feuer und Eis" set the tone for all the Hollywood follow-ups that came after. We can blame Bognor then.

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