Blu-ray Review: Bowling Comedy ‘Kingpin’ Rolls Onto Blu-ray

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CHICAGO – Before 1998’s “The Big Lebowski” there was 1996’s “Kingpin”, the Farrelly brothers bowling comedy that didn’t have the narrative intricacies of the Coen brothers’ classic, but had plenty of jokes about middle-aged men playing the sport. Today finds the release of “Kingpin” to Blu-ray for the first time, coming with only one new special feature. Blu-ray rating: 2.5/5.0
Rating: 2.5/5.0

The occasion of “Kingpin” is related less to marking a point in American cinematic history than to note the upcoming release of “Dumb and Dumber To,” the next film from the Farrelly brothers and their bizarre set of Hollywood gross outs. This bowling movie was a followup to “Dumb & Dumber,” and certainly saw the filmmaking duo following some of the same course (by literally making a buddy road movie), with the gross-out humor that became huge of them. With films like “There’s Something About Mary” and “Me, Myself & Irene” coming after it, “Kingpin” shows that the group has made it in Hollywood despite their unparalleled boyish grossness because there is a sweetness to them. “Kingpin” is best at its most uncomfortable when focusing on character Roy Munson (Woody Harrelson), a loser of the darkest variety who continues to have the joke played on him throughout this story. Harrelson’s character even makes Bill Murray’s antagonist almost too-frustrating.

As for comedy, “Kingpin” isn’t one of their stronger films in my mind, with numerous boyish gags showing that their immature taste for comedy can be unproductive, if only to amuse them when they feel the story is getting too serious. When watching a movie like “Kingpin,” that certainly feels like a trait in their entire filmography, which seems to have gotten grosser as they have gotten older, challenging the trend that some artists get softer with age. “Kingpin” is one mark on the road of the bizarre Farrelly legacy that is more special for its context, but comparatively stands out less when taken as its own film. However, here’s to hoping that one day the Farrelly brothers will give musician/dancer Jonathan Richman his own movie.

This release does indeed come packaged with only one new extra, but for the die-hard “Kingpin” fans that the Farrellys claim to have, it might be worth a look. The two are interviewed about the making of the film, and their experience with the actors. A lot of these behind-the-scenes nuggets can be found on IMDb trivia, but there are nice moments when the filmmakers look back upon and own the things that makes their gross-out stuff an acquired taste. With their excited manner talking about this comedy, the Farrelly brothers show that their wacky comedy differs from other films that ad-lib the same type f humor with a degree of passion. Maybe it’s a good thing that the Farrellys don’t seem to have matured a bit.

“Kingpin” was released on Blu-ray on October 21, 2014
Photo credit: Paramount Pictures

“Kingpin” Synopsis:
Competitive bowler Roy Munson has his hand chopped off after hustling a group of men in a bowling tournament. His dreams dashed, many years later he ventures back into the world by trying to manage Amish bowler Ishmael (Randy Quaid), who has the skill but not the attitude to win bowling prizes both legally and illegally. The two work together to get Ishmael to a massive bowling competition in Reno, Nevada, where Munson and Ishmael confront the man who ruined Munson’s life, egocentric bowler Ernie McCracken (Bill Murray).

Special Features for “Kingpin” on Blu-ray
o Theatrical Version in high definition
o R-Rated Version in high definition, commentary by Peter and Bobby Farrelly
o Kingpins: Extra Frames with the Farrelly Brothers
o Theatrical Trailer (HD)

”Kingpin” was released on Blu-ray and DVD on October 21, 2014.

By Nick Allen

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