In a rare instance of the UK getting a movie before the US, Kingpin was a surprisingly pleasant discovery on a Saturday afternoon back in the sunny July of 1996. It has since gone on to be one of my favorite comedies and showcases Bill Murray's evil, sarcastic humor at it's finest.
Woody Harrelson is Roy Munson a young, up-and-coming bowler who falls foul of 'Big' Ern McCracken (simply by beating him). Ern executes a cunning revenge on Roy which results in the loss of his precious bowling hand. Flash-forward 17 years and Roy is living a truly grotty life and is a complete and utter loser. His hustling attempts fall flat and it looks like he's destined for a future of failure until he meets naive Amish 'boy' Ishmael, who just so happens to be a bowling prodigy. Roy and Ishmael team-up and head to Reno, Nevada for a big bowling showdown with the diabolical 'Big' Ern.
Part road movie, part profound life journey, Kingpin is probably the most mature Farrelly Brothers movie and certainly their best effort so far. The script is just jam-packed with brilliant dialogue and gags, and Ishmael (or 'the kid' as they keep calling him despite the fact that Randy Quaid was 45 at the time of filming) may just be the sweetest character of all time and may even rival Cousin Eddie as Quaid's funniest role. But it is Bill Murray as 'Big' Ern who steals the movie and runs away with it. Apparently he just threw the script away and decided to ad-lib, and you can tell. He keeps the rest of the cast on their toes and enjoys himself way too much. His Unified Fund TV commercial is comedy gold.
It may well be one of the most underrated comedies of all time, but Kingpin is a far superior film to the likes of There's Something About Mary or Me, Myself & Irene. It's lack of success or popularity is not a reflection on its brilliance.
The DVD looks horrible in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen with Dolby 5.1 sound. Why is there not a Blu Ray yet. This DVD hit the shelves less than two years after the format hit the streets. Blu has been around for 5 years now and we're STILL waiting!