If there is a category for college alternative movies, like music, I nominate the Farrelly Brothers. They’re just “off” enough that their humor while often silly is whip-smart wicked funny. That means these guys are deftly talented. They can take liberties that in lesser hands would likely fall flat even being offensive. Instead they masterfully manipulate stupid and offensive into hilarious comedy as their debut with Dumb and Dumber hit big proving. So here we have a similar formula of two uncool guys on a wacky adventure Smartly, however, they are not even close in disposition and are serendipitously brought together by the most uncool sport on planet earth: professional bowling. These little differences make King Pin a superior film to the mega-successful Dumb & Dumber.
In King Pin amidst all of the possibly sharply barbed satire there is a real heart of humanity. It hovers at different times and makes an excellent sum in the unexpected ending. I always love the Farrelly Brothers pop music sound tracks and it’s excellent here. They often weave in overlooked gems that are so cool and well placed. When a soundtrack elevates the proceedings it actually affects the storyline masterfully. Speaking of masterfully. Woody Harrelson plays his role of Munson so well it appears we’re seeing an actual person as the actor melts into the part. It is exceptional to do this with the portrayal of a downer character playing comedy wrapped in equal parts spiraling down and barely hanging on all the while retaining a sliver of hope. Munson as a character does all this for which you can’t help love the loser. What’s a loser without an evil foil? That is provided in superlative fashion by none other than the slimy comedic excellence of Bill Murray as profession bowling’s reining kingpin “Big Ern”. I simply cannot imagine this working so well without Bill Murray’s role. He’s an absolutely perfect slime ball. Then there’s the glue which binds these character’s together and it’s Randy Quaid. Quaid playing the Amish “kid” turns in one of his finest portrayals of a character, ever. Whatever happened to him in later life he had acting chops to play an utterly ridiculous role and do so in such a natural way it seems, again, that the actor faded into a very real misfit. Vanessa Angel as the femme fatale is so right her unlikely pairing with Munson and “The Kid” never feels wrong in spite of it being wholly unthinkable. What’s happening here? It’s a mini-masterpiece of left-field comedy is what. This is one wickedly intelligent raucously funny movie.