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Kingpin has its moments, but they're often offset by an eagerness to descend into vulgar mean-spiritedness. Read critic reviews

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Movie Info

Roy Munson (Woody Harrelson) is a young bowler with a promising career ahead of him until a disreputable colleague, Ernie McCracken (Bill Murray), tricks him into participating in a con game that ends with Roy's bowling hand crippled for life. Years later, Roy ekes out a hardscrabble existence until he discovers Amish bowling phenom Ishmael (Randy Quaid). With the help of a gangser's girlfriend (Vanessa Angel), he plots to take Ishmael to the top of the bowling world.

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Critic Reviews for Kingpin

All Critics (38) | Top Critics (8) | Fresh (19) | Rotten (19)

Audience Reviews for Kingpin

  • Nov 11, 2014
    Turns out this wasn't even the best movie centered around bowling during the 90s. Hell, a little movie called The Big Lebowski came out relatively short after that, 2 years or so. If it wasn't a Farrelly bros. movie it would've faded into obscurity by now. Not to say that its current status is great, but the Farrelly brothers, for all their faults, are well-known. Who in their right mind would pick this over The Big Lebowski is beyond me. Much like Million Ways to Die in the West, it's simply too long for its own good without great material in order to justify its length. This is the Farrelly bros. we're talking about here, so you know exactly what to expect. A lot of gross-out comedy in a neutered PG-13 setting. Personally, I thought the film was gonna be edgier than it actually was, but it played it pretty tame. That's not to say there aren't any mean-spirited jokes, which is what the Farrelly bros specialize on, but it's a safer and less dangerous version of that. Not that they were ever experts at comedy, but they could do some fun stuff if they were given a little more freedom. As There's Something About Mary proves. That movie may have not aged well, or anything, but at the time it was pretty good. I think this film found them in a sort of limbo, since this was their first film after Dumb and Dumber and their last before Mary. That's not to say there isn't good stuff in here, but that's really all Bill Murray and his character. Bill Murray has always been great at playing these detestable assholes with little to no redeeming qualities. All he wants is to have sex with women half his age and fuck over people he doesn't like. He's fucking great here. It's just a shame he was kept as a secondary character. He's, clearly, the most interesting character in the entire film. Maybe they couldn't get him for the entirety of the shoot, or if that's how his character was intended to be, but he steals the show from under the leads and you're kinda disappointed when he's gone. The other characters aren't nearly as interesting, despite their every attempt to make you care, so you don't really care as much what happens to them. It also tries the feel-good ending, which is out of place in a movie with these types of characters and all the mean-spirited jokes. The cast is decent, but not outstanding, outside of Bill Murray of course. He's the reason the film gets this rating. It would've been much higher if he had been a more prominent character, but it was not to be. Can you believe Roger Ebert named this one of the best movies 96? May the guy rest in peace, but he also panned The Raid. One thing has nothing to do with the other, I suppose. Apples and oranges and all that. This is typical Farrelly bros, for better or worse. Mostly worse.
    Jesse O Super Reviewer
  • May 14, 2012
    Good, not great. This is one of those comedies that has funny moments, but to get to the laughs you have to endure a lot of filler. Bill Murray steals the movie from the rest of the cast, and with his screen time ratio and cast he's playing against, that's an impressive feat. But otherwise, proceed with caution, cause it can get real old real fast.
    Bryan D Super Reviewer
  • Mar 14, 2012
    Kingpin is a fun screwball comedy from the Farrelly brothers, but a lot of it falls flat. The story follows a washed up pro bowler named Roy Munson who trains an up-and-coming Amish bowler named Ishmael for the Reno championship, so that Ishmael can save his family's farm. Woody Harrelson, Randy Quaid, and Vanessa Angel lead the cast, but it's Bill Murray who steals the show. Murray brings a lot of charisma to the film with his arrogant, showboating hustler character, Ernie McCracken; who owns nearly every scene he's in. But, as a Farrelly brothers film it tends to push boundaries and use edgy comedy, but a lot it misfires. Kingpin is a lot of fun, but isn't able to sustain the laughs all the way through (especially in the extended edition).
    Dann M Super Reviewer
  • Jul 09, 2011
    the film has grown on me a little over the years. I expected more dumb and dumber at the time and dismissed it straight away. This is a completely different film and is almost slapstick humour more in common with Zucker comedies. Much more fun and heart then I remembered, humour is for the fans but you'll laugh every now and then.
    Brendan N Super Reviewer

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