Culture Magazine

Kingpin (1996)

By Newguy

logoDirector: Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly

Writer: Barry Fanaro, Mort Nathan (Screenplay)

Starring: Woody Harrelson, Randy Quaid, Vanessa Angel, Bill Murray, Chris Elliot, William Jordan, Richard Tyson, Lin Shaye

Plot: A star bowler whose career was prematurely “cut off” hopes to ride a new prodigy to success and riches.

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

Verdict: Fun Comedy Gets a Strike

Story: Kingpin starts with young Roy Munson as a bowling prodigy, before becoming a bowling champion in the late 70’s. Roy (Harrelson) reaches the peak of his career by winning the national championship beating Ernie McCracken (Murray). When the tour starts costing money Ernie teams up with Roy to hustle but when the hustle gets caught Roy loses his hand as Ernie leaves him to pay the price.

17 years later Roy is now living by the bottle with a hook for a hand working as a salesmen. When Roy hears Ishmael (Quaid) an Amish man bowling he knows he could easily go onto the big stage. When Roy learns about a $1 Million prize for one bowling championship which leads to him going undercover in the Amish community to talk Ishmael into competing in the competition.

What follows is Roy and Ishmael to traveling across America to reach the championship and along the way the meet the beautiful Claudia (Angel) who joins them in the hustling to make the money to make it to the championship.

Kingpin brings us a sports comedy that unlikely many manages to keep the idea serious with good laughs and not going over board. The film has a very good message about doing the right thing even if you think the world is against you. Sure this does have a couple of bad jokes but in the most part it has plenty going for including a double cross like story behind the bowling story. This is a good simple comedy that really manages to tell a good story throughout. (7/10)

Actor Review

Woody Harrelson: Roy Munson is the bowling prodigy who lost his hand while trying to hustle with a fellow professional. Years pass when he finally see his chance to get back into the game as a manager for an Amish man who has the ability he once had. Woody does a great job in the leading role showing he always has a top comedy performance in him. (8/10)


Randy Quaid: Ishmael is the Amish man who gets pulled into the bowling world by Roy as he goes to save his community by using his bowling ability. He believes anything Roy tells him as he discovers the world for the first time. Randy does a good job in the role showing he has comical timing. (7/10)


Vanessa Angel: Claudia is a young woman who ends up joining the boys on the trip offering up a distraction to the hustler game. Vanessa adds the eye candy for the guys. (7/10)


Bill Murray: Ernie McCracken is the champion bowler who ends up tricking Roy into working with him while hustling and ends up being the man that Roy is looking to beat out in the championship. Bill proves you don’t need to be a main character to get the most laughs. (7/10)


Support Cast: Kingpin has a series of character they meet on their journey who add a few laughs but nobody too iconic.

Director Review: Bobby Farrelly, Peter FarrellyThe 90’s were the decade for the Farrelly brothers could do no wrong and this shows they were at the top of their game. (7/10)

Comedy: Kingpin has plenty of laughs throughout without being over the top with them all. (8/10)

Sports: Kingpin brings us into the world on bowling with the characters you would meet in the game. (8/10)

Settings: Kingpin brings us into many different settings which wouldn’t be the best for Amish but nothing really stands out. (5/10)

Suggestion: Kingpin is one for all comedy fans will enjoy and if you like a spots comedy this will tick all the boxes. (Comedy Fans Watch)

Best Part: The Rubber Hand.

Worst Part: The awkward fight.

Funniest Scene: Amish montage.

Believability: No (0/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

Similar Too: Dodge ball

Oscar Chances: No

Budget: $27 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 53 Minutes

Tagline: The movie the Olympuk comitee wouldn’t allow you to see.

Trivia: Bill Murray really bowled three strikes in a row in the scene where his character, Ernie McCracken does the same. The crowd’s reaction is genuine and is actually for Murray.Woody Harrelson, on the other hand, was a terrible bowler and according to the Farrelly brothers maybe got one or two strikes throughout the filming.

Overall: Fun comedy that keeps you laughing till the end.



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