A disgraced bowling champion finds hope in an Amish prodigy,
whom he trains to win a tournament in Reno and reclaim some glory.
Directed by Bobby Farrelly and Peter Farrelly
Written by Barry Fanaro and Mort Nathan
Starring Woody Harrelson, Randy Quaid,
Vanessa Angel, Bill Murray, Chris Elliott, Lin Shaye
Kingpin didn't convince me it was funny until about halfway through, but once it had me, it didn't let go. This film is positively ridiculous, goofy, and vulgar all at the same time. It succeeds almost solely because of its excellent comedic cast who do their best with what they have, which is essentially a nonsensical parody of sports dramas...with bowling!
Woody Harrelson stars as former bowling champ Roy Munson, whose name has become synonymous with premature failure after his hand is ripped off by some people he hustled. Harrelson does a great job of playing a down-and-out pro whose looking for his next hustle, which comes in the form of Amish bowling prodigy Ishmael (Randy Quaid). Quaid is hilariously naive as the Amish fish out of water, providing a great deal of comedic moments. Along for the ride is Claudia (Vanessa Angel), a fellow hustler who learns the true meaning of friendship. Her character existed solely for sex appeal at first, but as the film went on, she actually gained some depth.
Of course, the one who stole the movie was Bill Murray as bowling champion and professional prick Ernie McCracken. I can't recall ever seeing Murray as a villain before, so his turn as Big Ern had me rolling with every line of improvised dialogue. He's the main reason I rated Kingpin as high as I did. As I said before, this movie succeeded because of its all-star cast of talented comedians. Without them, I doubt this ever would have become as big a cult classic as it has.