Saturday, May 9, 2015


I found a brand new, never opened, still sealed in shrink wrap DVD of KINGPIN (1996) the other day at the thrift store. Even though I'd seen the film before I figured that a brand new copy for only a buck was too good a deal to pass up Besides, this movie made me laugh my ass off.

KINGPIN, directed by brothers Bobby and Peter Farrelly  (from a script by Barry Fanaro and Mort Nathan), is a lowbrow, rude, politically incorrect comedy about three of life's losers who find a measure of redemption in the world of, wait for it, bowling. Yes, bowling. Part road comedy, part sports cliché movie and all vulgar humor (much of it directed at handicapped and disabled individuals), KINGPIN is one very funny movie.

Woody Harrelson stars as Roy Munson, a one time bowling champion who has hit the skids. He's an unemployed alcoholic with a bad comb over. And oh yeah, he has a prosthetic hand. Munson stumbles across Ishmael Boorg (Randy Quaid in a blond page boy wig), an Amish bowling prodigy. Munson sees Ish as his ticket back to the big time. He plans to coach the naïve young man and enter him in a million dollar, winner-take-all bowling tournament in Reno, Nevada.

The two cheat, steal, hustle and con their way across country eventually crossing paths with Claudia (Vanessa Angel), a woman who knows a thing or two about hustling herself. They finally reach Reno but an injury to Ish forces Munson to take his place in the tournament where he must face his nemesis, Ernie McCracken (Bill Murray, sporting another ridiculous comb over). There's lots of high drama (veteran sportscaster Chris Schenkel calls the big showdown), before the end of the tournament.

Harrelson is good as the sleazy Munson, while Quaid imbues Ish with a sense of innocence and naivete. Angel is just there for eye candy while Murray practically steals the show in the third act. There are plenty of gross sight gags, physical humor and one liners, many of which are guaranteed to offend the sensitive. Me? I thought it was hysterically funny. Stupid? Yeah. Dumb? Yeah. But the Farrelly brothers manage to find the inherent goodness in these lovable losers. If you're looking for sophisticated comedy, move along. You won't find it here. But if you have a penchant for well done gross out comedy, KINGPIN rolls a strike every time.


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