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Get Pumped Up For the Games With These 17 Great Olympic Movies

Tokyo Summer Olympic Games begin July 23

By Kyrie Collins, publisher of Macaroni Kid Highlands Ranch-Parker-Castle Rock-Lone Tree, Colo. July 30, 2021

After being delayed by a year, the Tokyo Summer Olympic Games are finally here! From inspiring (and sometimes tragic) stories to silly antics, these movies are sure to get you into the spirit to cheer on Olympic athletes.

KIDS and FAMILIES

Chariots of Fire (PG) If you've ever run in slow motion across a finish line, this movie deserves the credit! Winner of four Academy Awards®, including Best Picture, Chariots of Fire tells the story of two talented athletes on the British track team — a devout Christian Scot and a Jewish Brit — who compete against each other in the 1924 Olympics. 

Cool Runnings (PG) This classic family comedy inspired by Jamaica's first bobsled team is both heartwarming and hilarious.

The Cutting Edge (PG) This '90s rom-com about a former hockey player (D.B. Sweeney) and a spoiled figure skater (Moira Kelly) who reluctantly team up to compete in the Olympics isn't based on a true story (as far as I know) but it's still a family favorite. "Toe pick!"

I Am Bolt (PG) The story and legacy of Usain Bolt, the fastest man in history and winner of three Olympic Gold Medals for the 100-meter dash.

Miracle (PG) One of my favorite movies of all time about the "Miracle on Ice," one of the biggest upsets of all time. No one expected that the underdog U.S. Men's Hockey team, led by Herb Brooks (Kurt Russell), could beat the heavily favored Russians at the 1980 Winter Olympic Games in Lake Placid. And yet...

Swimming Upstream (PG-13) The inspirational life story of Australian swimmer Tony Fingleton, who overcame a difficult childhood with an abusive father to become a world-class swimmer and Harvard graduate.

TWEENS, TEENS, and ADULTS

Bannister: Everest on the Track (NR) In 1954, Roger Bannister became the first man to run a sub-4:00 mile, a feat that Sports Illustrated called "The Greatest Sports Achievement of the 20th Century." Since then, more people have summited Mount Everest than have matched Bannister’s feat.

Eddie the Eagle (PG-13) Michael "Eddie" Edwards (Taron Egerton) always knew he would become an Olympian — even though he was never very good at sports. In 1988, Eddie became the first British skier to compete in Olympic ski-jumping since 1928. It's a funny and inspiring story about never giving up on your dreams.

Foxcatcher (R) U.S. wrestling champions and brothers Mark and Dave Schultz (Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo) join "Team Foxcatcher," led by eccentric multi-millionaire John du Pont (Steve Carell), to prepare for the Olympic Games. They were the first American brothers to each win gold medals in the same Olympics. It's a compelling story with a tragic end due to the spiraling self-destructive behavior of du Pont.

I, Tonya (R) This biopic of the Harding/Kerrigan story uses satire and the storytelling-interview combination reminiscent of The Office to dramatize the life of Tonya Harding (Margot Robbie) and the choices she made that led up to the infamous attack. Allison Janney won an Oscar® for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Harding's cold and cruel mother.

The Other Dream Team (NR) This documentary tells the incredible story of the 1992 Lithuanian basketball team, who became symbols of Lithuania’s independence movement and — with help from the Grateful Dead — triumphed at the Barcelona Olympics.

Peaceful Warrior (PG-13) Dan Millman (Scott Mechlowicz) was a college gymnast with a shot at the Olympic gymnastics team until a tragic accident shattered his leg as well as his dreams. With spiritual guidance from a gas station attendant whom Dan calls Socrates (Nick Nolte), Dan defies the odds and successfully competes in the U.S. Olympic trials. Based on the autobiography Way of the Peaceful Warrior.

Prefontaine (PG-13) Based on the life of Olympic runner Steve Prefontaine, this film was considered a flop upon release, but actually holds up as a solid, entertaining sports movie.

Race (PG-13) This biopic about legendary sprinter Jesse Owens (Stephan James) covers the issues of racism he faced in the United States as well as his incredible triumphs at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin. Despite anti-Hitler sentiment that called for an American boycott of the Games, Owens competed and won four gold medals that year for the 100m, 200m, 4x100m-relay, and the long jump.

Tokyo Olympiad (NR) If you've always wanted to attend the Olympics, this 1965 documentary captures the poetry and pageantry — in and out of the arena — for an insider's look at the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

Unbroken (PG-13) After a plane crash during World War II, Olympian Louis Zamperini spent 47 days in a raft in the ocean before ending up in a Japanese POW camp. Although it's probably more a war movie than a sports drama, it's a moving testimony of unwavering courage and resilience.

Without Limits (PG-13) As part of the Oregon Track Club, long-distance runner Steve Prefontaine (Billy Crudup) set American records at every distance from 2,000m to 10,000m and placed fourth at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich. Although his life ended tragically at age 24, he is credited with inspiring the running boom of the 1970s.

Kyrie Collins is the publisher of Macaroni Kid Highlands Ranch-Parker-Castle Rock-Lone Tree in Colorado.