So I was sitting around Saturday morning and happened upon this
classic on TV. I hadn’t seen it in a while and thought it was a great
opportunity to revisit the movie, all while enjoying my bacon and
eggs. Edit: That was my original comment four years ago. Ironically, I found myself in a very similar situation while on vacation last week.
I have to say, I think this may be one of the most
underappreciated comedies out there. I simply don’t hear a lot of
people talk about it when discussing some of the funnier films of
the last 20 years - and it is damn funny.
Kingpin follows former rising star – in the world of
bowling – Roy Munson. Roy (played by Woody Harrelson) was once a
very promising young bowler. All the ladies wanted him and all the
guys wanted to be him. Unfortunately his luck runs out when he comes into contact with
veteran bowler Ernie McCracken; who ends up being responsible for
the demise of Roy’s career. From that point forward, Roy becomes
something of a loser.
Nothing ever goes Roy's way. He is in debt, has no girlfriend, and has aged very badly. That all changes the day he comes across a young
prospect named Ishmael (Randy Quaid). Being Amish, and having little
exposure to the outside world, Roy has a hard time convincing Ish to
come along for the ride to a big tournament. He eventually does and the two stop at various venues along the way to practice...and make a little money on the side. Along the way they meet a woman named Claudia (Vanessa Angel),
who becomes something of a “business advisor” to the boys (she distracts opponents with her boobs).
The road trip provides them with the time and means to get to know one another. The journey also provides some
really funny moments. They meet all kinds of
seedy characters, fight with each other, and work their way up the amateur circuit. that make up about 99% of the underground world of
They also come into contact with an old rival before the movie ends. Ernie McCracken
(Bill Murray) has taken advantage of the fact that
Roy is no longer in competition and it has sky-rocketed his career
into stardom. Murray really shines in this movie. His performance rivals some of his funniest. They are all funny really, but once Murray re-enters the movie, he steals the show.
I can’t say enough good things about this movie. It is simply
hilarious and must be viewed if you are fan of slapstick comedy.
Think of the absurdity of Caddyshack, but set in the world of
bowling. If you haven't seen it in while it is worth watching.
Diagnosis: Thumbs up.
This movie review was written for your reading pleasure on May
25, 2011. It was updated on July 4, 2015.
What She said:
Kingpin is one of those movies that really makes me
miss the ‘90s. Everyone was at their height when this was
made—all the actors, the directors. The movie takes place in
the ‘70s and tells the story of Roy Munson, played by Woody
Harrelson, the former Iowa State Amateur Bowling Champion whose
life takes a tragic turn when he loses his bowling hand.
Roy’s once promising career is left flatlined, and he has no other
skills to turn to. He’s left living in Scranton, Pennsylvania,
a penniless salesman with a rather miserable
At the bowling alley one day, Roy happens upon Ishmael
(Randy Quaid), a remarkably talented bowler. Roy envisions
teaming up with Ishmael to win a championship in Reno worth a
million dollars. The only problem is that Ishmael is an
extremely innocent and childlike Amishman. Roy and Ishmael,
the unlikely duo, set aside their differences to team up for the
sake of money.
Okay, so if you haven’t figured out by now, this movie is a
comedy. It’s classic Farrelly Brothers. Some great slapstick
humor, over-the-top characters, and several moments that’ll totally
gross you out. Bill Murray, before he got all weird emo
serious, plays the best villain. He’s a total a-hole.
It’s just so refreshing to see all these actors team up when they
were in their comedic prime. The movie is thoroughly
entertaining, especially as it reflects on some of the oddness of
bowling culture. I don’t own this movie, but I probably
should. Kingpin is a film that all comedy lovers
should watch at least once a year.