1118. Kingpin (1996)

6.5 A fairly average comedy
  • Acting 6.6
  • Directing 6.4
  • Story 6.4
  • User Ratings (0 Votes) 0

Starring: Woody Harrelson, Bill Murray, Vanessa Angel

Director: Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly

Running Time: 113 mins

Kingpin is an American film about a former bowling superstar who, after having a terrible accident that loses him a hand, decides to train up a young Amish man to help him take revenge on a former rival and win a million-dollar bowling championship.

This may be a silly, light sports comedy, but it’s simply not funny, well-written or well-acted enough to ever be properly engaging. It’s not overtly idiotic, and actually features a slightly more depressed sense of humour than other Farrelly Brother films, but it’s never that entertaining to watch at all, despite one relatively impressive quality, the small performance by Bill Murray.

So, let’s start with the performances. The story revolves mainly around Woody Harrelson, Randy Quaid and Vanessa Angel’s journey through the bowling world as they aim to reach the ultimate bowling championship, however, none of them are particularly impressive to watch.

Harrelson, despite giving an okay performance as a depressed middle-aged man, has little hilarious comic value, Vanessa Angel is clearly there as just a pretty face and nothing more, and Randy Quaid, playing a relatively stupid character, is just too subdued and dull to ever laugh at.

However, Bill Murray, as ever, is brilliant. Although his role is relatively minor, every time he appears on screen, he’s fantastic to watch as the narcissistic, self-centred and promiscuous bowling champion of the world, often saving scenes single-handedly from being totally unfunny.

Now, in terms of the comedy itself, it’s not great. In comparison to the totally moronic but somewhat charming Dumb And Dumber, the humour here is much more subdued and simply dull. There’s a lot less overt slapstick, and few genuinely hilarious gags, and although there is the odd occasion with some slapstick, it still feels far too forced and annoying.

The story is also not great. It suffers from the generic sports movie plot that’s completely predictable from the off, and there are also random romances and awkward inter-character relationships that are totally unconvincing. On the whole, it’s not a particularly interesting film in any way, and although it could have been saved by decent comedy or performances, that never really happens, so that’s why it gets a 6.5 from me.



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The Mad Movie Man, AKA Anthony Cullen, writes articles and reviews about movies and the world of cinema. Since January 1st, 2013, he has watched and reviewed a movie every day. This is the blog dedicated to the project: www.madmovieman.com