Note that there are two cuts of this movie, one which is an R rated comedy and one which is a PG13 rated comedy. Even the PG13 rated edition treads the line!
Kingpin is a sports comedy that delves into the dark underworld of bowling- the cloak and dagger shadow games, the subtle maneuverings, the rise and falls of superstars, the gambling and the partying lifestyle of the bowlers. I’m only half kidding, by the way. It’s the tale of Roy Munsen (Woody Harrelson) who- sorry, I’m just going to stop this review to talk about Rampart for a bit. But seriously, it’s about Roy Munsen, an up and coming bowling star who beats Ernie McCracken (Bill Murray) in a game, humiliating the old pro. That turns out to be Munsen’s downfall, as McCracken knows just how to get him out the game.
17 years later, Munsen is down and out. Without bowling, he has nothing, and takes to heavy drinking and heavy hustling. He is degrading his body and mind to continue simply existing, and looks hopeless. His only money comes from swindling, and his self respect has been sold long ago. As luck would have it, he sees Amish bowler Ishmael Boorg (Randy Quaid) and a million dollar tournament- and resolves to take this guy pro and make enough dough to get his life in order.
Why is Kingpin on my list of the best comedies of 1996?
I’ll be honest, this comedy slows right the hell down, and starts to use some tired jokes. I actually paused the movie and went and watched another comedy, then came back to Kingpin. Then how did it make my list of the best comedies? Well, it picks right up when the two get on the road. They get into some hairy situations, and pick up some interesting characters on the way. Oh, and Bill Murray. He plays the over the top, rock and roll bowler who is as disgusting as he is charismatic. He has the crowd in the palm of his hand, and has no remorse for his actions. I truly believe that Murray must have had a blast with his role as McCracken, because he is absolutely ridiculous. I mean, come on. It’s a bowling comedy, how could it not make my list of the best comedies?
Where does the humour come from?
Most of the humour is derived from the juxtaposition of the seedy Munson and naivety of Ishmael. As well, there is plenty of slapstick, running gags, and visual jokes. Some of the humour is a little tired, but maybe back in 1996 it was cutting edge, so can you really blame them?
Who do I recommend Kingpin to?
I would recommend Kingpin to anyone who wants to check out a bowling comedy- there are not many out there. As well, Bill Murray’s performance is worth the wait, so any of his fans (so pretty much the whole world) should give this sports comedy a try. If you are into slapstick humour and running gags, then this could be a good comedy for you. I can’t categorize Kingpin as either a Pg13 or R rated comedy, as there are two cuts of the movie.
Does Kingpin teach any valuable lessons about life?