Directed by Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly
Starring Woody Harrelson, Randy Quaid, Vanessa Angel
I was thrilled when CultureSmash editor Stephen Lackey contacted me and stated he had the perfect review for me: the Blu-Ray release of a 1990s comedy about bowling directed by a pair of well-known brothers.
Then I found out it was it was Kingpin, the OTHER 1990s comedy about bowling directed by a pair of well known brothers.
Kingpin is the story of a Roy Munson (Harrelson), a former bowling champ who was left unable to bowl after rival bowler Ernie McCracken sets him up during a hustle. The con goes poorly, and Munson loses his hand. When we pick up in present day, we find Munson living in squalor as a bowling supply salesman. He finds Ishmael Boorg (Quaid) during one of his sales calls, a young Amish man who is a decent bowler, and develops a plan use Ishmael to win a $1,000,000 tournament in Reno, Nevada.
Its a simple and familiar story, and it’s a fun watch to see what this cast and directing team do to play with this formula to make it entertaining. Kingpin was the follow up to The Farrelly Brothers first film, Dumb and Dumber. With just two films, their comedies starting having a trademark of silly slapstick, juvenile gags, and gross-out humor. One thing that can be said about these qualities is they do have a certain timelessness to them, so in that regard the movie holds up. The thing about it is the jokes aren’t as funny after you’ve seen the movie once. And while Woody Harrelson and Randy Quaid are both great in the movie, its Bill Murray who really steals this show, and he is in the film far too little.
Re-watching Kingpin for the first time since its VHS release in 1996, it’s easy to find similarities to 2004’ s Dodgeball A True Underdog Story. The most notable is the excitement and enthusiasm of the audience, and the overproduction of the event venue, that would be more congruous with an NBA game than either of these two sports.
There’s nothing here that feels like its on the cutting edge of Blu-Ray video. The quality of video could have been better throughout the movie, but I didn’t see anything horrible.
Kingpin is presented in 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. Sound channels are used efficiently during the bowling scenes, but otherwise don’t stand out.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
The movie is packaged in a cardboard slipcase with glitter accents reminiscent of Munson’s disco era bowling ball, and is the nicest thing about the packaging. There’s some standard bonus features, including the theatrical trailer and a commentary from Peter and Bobby Farrelly, which focuses mostly on the backgrounds of the minor actors in the film. An extended R-rated cut of the film, that runs 4 minutes longer at 117 minutes is included, and doesn’t do anything to improve the movie. The best of the bonus features is Kingpins: Extra Frames with The Farrelly Brothers, a 17-minute retrospective on the film, featuring the directing duo with interview clips from the cast. I have to increase the score for bonus features the inclusion of new material filmed for the blu-ray release!
overall (not an average)
For a movie quickly approaching its 20th anniversary, Kingpin has enough relevant humor to remain a notable comedy of its time. The main pull is getting to see Harrelson, Quaid, and Murray together directed by two guys whose lenient style gives these actors the chance to make these characters shine.