by Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Kingpin is an early Farrelly Brothers comedy about an amateur bowling champion named Roy Munson who got hopelessly lost on his way to a professional career. Years after having his dreams crushed, while living as an alcoholic con man, Roy spots a chance at redemption when he discovers and hopes to manage an Amish bowling whiz.

Woody Harrelson plays the sleazy Munson, while Randy Quaid plays the Amish lad with the Dutch Boy haircut, and they are both amusing, but the show is stolen, as you might expect, by the unrestrained antics of Bill Murray as Big Ern, the sleazebag king of the pro bowling circuit. The Farrellys point out in their DVD commentary for this film that Murray showed up, looked at his script, learned the basic facts about his character, then tore up the script and ad-libbed his entire role, all while staying professional enough to allow the other actors to interact with him. The brothers were a bit unnerved at first by the volcanic Murray, and they were more than a little bit worried about losing control of their film, but they ultimately let the crazy man do his thing because ... well, because he's Bill Freakin' Murray, and you have to trust his comic instincts. They speak of Murray in the same awe-struck, reverential tones that political pundits would reserve for Nelson Mandela or Christians might reserve for Jesus himself.

And maybe that's they way it should be. At least it worked out for them here, as I see it. The critics were sharply divided on Kingpin, but you can count me in the "pro"camp.

The Farrellys made three very funny films when they started out their careers: Dumb and Dumber (1994), Kingpin (1996), and There's Something About Mary (1998). The next 12 years didn't produce as many laughs, and those first three films remain in the top three slots on their filmography as ranked by the IMDb rating.

Oh, I know the Bros are trying to grow up but, dammit, I love those three films and wish they'd get back in that immature groove. Maturity is vastly overrated. Especially in comedy.

Our Grade explanation

C+ (Lots of dumb fun! Bill Murray in top form.)



Includes Deleted Scenes

8-Page booklet featuring production notes



3.5 Roger Ebert (of 4 stars)
1.5 James Berardinelli  (of 4 stars)
51 Rotten Tomatoes  (% positive)
43 (of 100)


6.7 IMDB summary (of 10)


Box Office Mojo. It grossed $25 million in about 2000 theaters.



Vanessa Angel does the dreaded double intentional nip-slip when she tries to distract some bowlers.