5 Reasons Why The Cutting Edge is still the Best Olympic Movie
Look, everyone is talking about I, Tonya and there’s good reason for that. Besides the Oscar quality performances, it’s a fresh take on the American Olympic Dream becoming a televised nightmare. America loves spend time looking at a good car wreck, especially when it is drenched in early 90s attire. Before the Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan soap opera even happened, Hollywood, however, already gave us the greatest Olympic movie of all time — The Cutting Edge (1992).
If you haven’t seen The Cutting Edge, here’s the premise: When a former Olympic hockey player is paired with a snooty figure skater, they try to find gold and love at the same time. Here are five reasons why The Cutting Edge (streaming now on Amazon Prime) is the best Olympic movie about the American Dream becoming a reality.
#1. The Pair
Let’s start with the performance from D.B. Sweeney in arguably his strongest role. Previously, Sweeney had been a memorable and supporting part of the ensemble casts of Memphis Belle (1990) and the TV mini-series Lonesome Dove (1989), but it is The Cutting Edge that gave him a leading role that he clearly worked his ass off to make his own. Sweeney’s character, Doug Dorsey, is a hockey player forced into early retirement due to an eye injury (officially diagnosed as a blind side). He’s paired up with stone cold ice princess Moira Kelly.
Kelly, who went on to be a part of With Honors (1994) and the television series One Tree Hill, is also making this film her first leading role. She injured her foot during training and had to get carted around on the ice, dance floor, basically anywhere for most of the film. The tension and passion between Kelly and Sweeney is sharp (this not a toe pick joke), which lends itself to the writing.
#2. The Script
Written by Tony Gilroy, arguably the best screenwriter working today. Gilroy is responsible for writing Michael Clayton (2007), as well as the The Bourne Trilogy. In a discussion with Brian Koppelman on The Moment, Gilroy said that he only writes scripts for himself, but maybe The Cutting Edge was the only time he didn’t only because he was desperate to get a screen credit.
Whether Gilroy had his heart into this script or not, the pacing and dialogue shows he is definitely present. The tension between the two leads provides a lot of opportunity for verbal jabs and swings and the plot brings the right amount of emotional conflict throughout. Sweeney has stated that the lack of a solid script was one of the key reasons he and Kelly wouldn’t agree to a planned sequel.
#3. Terry O'Quinn
A dozen or so years before O’Quinn stepped onto Oceanic Flight 815 as John Locke in the television series Lost, he had this supporting role. Jack Moseley, a wealthy man willing to do anything to get his daughter Kate her Olympic gold. O’Quinn does all the typical bits for this role, and it edges along cliché for a stretch, right down to offering Doug a fine sum of money to walk away. Fans of Lost can have a little fun pretending this entire film is a flash sideways, and O’Quinn saying the name Kate in most scenes will only help that fantasy. In a fit of rage, Kate even says the signature John Locke catchphrase, “No one tells me what I can and cannot do!”
Every good sports movie needs a few training montages, and this one does it very well. Most of these montages (there are five of them!) feature excellent early ‘90s songs and workout attire. There are weight machines, sit-ups, drip sweating and jogging. Montages are necessary to show the passage of time in the film as well as the progress the characters are making towards achieving their goals. Some people may call them cheesy, but this is exactly what training in 1992 looked like. Two other montages are straight up party montages, featuring a New Year’s Eve Party and a tequila shot fueled dance club after the pair make it through nationals. You cannot argue against 7 solid montages from 1992.
#5. The Olympic Dream
Doug gets clocked out of Calgary in 1988, Kate gets dropped by her partner at the same games. They use each other to get to the 1992 games in Albertville. All they each ever wanted was a gold medal, and oops they fell in love with each other along the way. The film ends perfectly, not with Doug and Kate standing on the Olympic podium, but with their first kiss after they pull off the most insane trick in the history of the sport. We don’t know if they get gold or if they even stay together long enough to make it back to the US. But in that final frame, it all came together quite nicely.
We call Albert the Last of the Punslingers