>> Sunday, June 24, 2007
USA/C-117m./Dir: Bobby Farrelly & Peter Farrelly/Wr: Barry Fanaro & Mort Nathan/Cast: Woody Harrelson (Roy Munson), Randy Quaid (Ishmael Boorg), Vanessa Angel (Claudia), Bill Murray (Ernie “Big Ern” McCracken)
Few sports are as closely associated with strong drink as bowling, and few films have milked more laughs from that association than the Farrelly Brothers’ 1996 comedy Kingpin. Woody Harrelson stars as Roy Munson, a rising star in the professional bowling world, who hits rock bottom after losing a hand through an encounter with a slimy rival bowler, Ernie “Big Ern” McCracken (Bill Murray). Seventeen years later, the boozing, balding, rubber-handed has-been gets another chance at the big time in the form of Ishmael Boorg (Randy Quaid), a talented amateur bowler who also happens to be Amish. Roy convinces Ish to leave his religious community to train for a million dollar tournament in Las Vegas under Roy’s tutelage. Along the way to the contest (featuring a final showdown with Big Ern), Ishmael breaks several commandments while Roy regains a bit of self respect.
Although, Kingpin was a box office disappointment for the Farrellys, sandwiched between their mega hits Dumb and Dumber (1994) and There’s Something About Mary (1998), it is arguably their funniest movie. Their films have always been an untidy mix of gross-out humor and heart, but with Kingpin, that unstable cocktail holds together well and goes down smoothly. The script is very funny and the leads (especially Harrelson) do a great job selling each gag. However, it is Bill Murray who steals the film, adlibbing his way through the small but significant role of sleazy villain Big Ern.
The movie is plenty entertaining on its own, but to give your viewing an extra kick, try taking a drink every time someone uses the words “Munson” or “Munsoned.”
Drinks Consumed--Gin (Tanqueray & Tab), beer, bourbon, and champagne
Intoxicating Effects--Drinking & driving, passing out, vomiting, and memory blackouts
Potent Quotables--INTERVIEWER: So, Roy, let me ask you. What have you been doing all these years?
ROY: Ah, well, the-the-uh-- After, after the hand, I-- There-there, no, there was the ‘80’s. You know, for a while, I-- (clears throat) Drinking. Yeah, a lot, a lot of drinking.
INTERVIEWER: Are you still drinking?
ROY: No-no-no-no, I-I don’t-- That-that’s behind me now. I just-- Why, are you buying?
Video Availability--Although originally released theatrically in a 113-minute PG-13 cut, the Kingpin DVD (MGM) presents a slightly raunchier 117-minute, R-rated version.
Similarly Sauced Cinema--Jeff Bridges stars as “The Dude,” a lazy, White Russian-sipping, bowling-obsessed, stoner in the Coen Bros.’ Big Lebowski (1998).