Kingpin Blu-ray Review
Long before DODGEBALL: A TRUE UNDERDOG STORY, HERE COMES THE BOOM and THE REPLACEMENTS tried their hand at the inspirational sports comedy; there was SLAP SHOT, CADDYSHACK and MAJOR LEAGUE. Sandwiched in between these was a little movie called KINGPIN that was overlooked at the time of its release, but luckily with this release on Blu-ray, we can take a look back and better appreciate the heartfelt raunchiness.
The box office receipts for KINGPIN were forgettable, but luckily the cast wasn’t. Woody Harrelson played Roy Munson, one of the best bowlers in the world who was molded in his childhood years by his father who was probably the only dad in the neighborhood setting up pins instead of throwing a pitch. His promising career is cut short after he meets Ernie McCracken (Murray). Ernie lets Roy take the fall after both of them hustle some locals at the bowling alley. Since they can’t get their money back, they get it back the old mafia way, by severing his precious fingers. Now the once promising Roy is a balding, hook for a hand, mess who skims through life by constantly conniving and stealing from townspeople
Before the movie makes us hate him too much for becoming a petty street thug, he comes across Ishmael (Quaid). Ishmael is Amish and sneaks away constantly to pursue one of his loves, bowling. While most Amish were spending Rumspringa doing drugs and fornicating, he was probably perfecting his bowling techniques and dreaming of a perfect 300 game. Unlike most bowlers, Ishmael is calm, confident, and displays a knack for the sport. With a tournament looming ahead, and the winner getting one million dollars, Roy sees dollar signs and Ishmael sees the opportunity of a lifetime.
Quaid and Harrelson play so well off each other that I’m surprised nobody else has ever cast the pair in another movie. Ishmael counterbalances Roy’s off putting demeanor and Roy’s filthy lifestyle gives way to some of Ishmael’s more comical scenarios. What makes these two mesh so well together is that Roy was once like Ishmael and despite Roy’s attempts to drag Ishmael down with him, he holds his head high and inevitably props Roy up. As for Murray, what can be said that already hasn’t been about one of the greatest comedic actors of our time? He’s cast perfectly and hopefully takes the chance to work with the Farrely brothers again.
This is commonly mistaken as a Farrelly brothers movie even though they didn’t write it. They tackled a script by Barry Fanaro and Mort Nathan, two men who’ve gone on to nothing spectacular. And as for the movies they’ve done that you’ve probably heard of…let’s just say you might lose a little respect for KINGPIN if I tell you. Maybe these two combined for a diamond in the rough, but the Farrelly brothers have always had knack for montages full of silly visual gags that feel fresher than the last and despite some of their more recent work, know how to turn the low-lives of society into some loveable goofs.
This is far from being the perfect comedy. At nearly two hours, it does a get repetitive and the commentary for the film mentions even more scenes that they had to eliminate altogether because test audiences felt it was dragging. It’s also curious that the ‘R’ rated version accompanied with this Blu-ray really only has three extra minutes and the only added scene I could really point out is one just showing the male butt. KINGPIN is far from joining the ranks of some of the comedy sports greats, but it deserves an honorable mention.
Video: (1080p Widescreen 1:85:1) Farrelly brothers love grossing out their audience and with this crystal clear presentation, that stomach-churning scenes are cranked to 11.
Audio: (English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) No problems with mixing, which is great because I was enjoying the 90’s music throwback.
Commentary by Directors Peter and Bobby Farrelly: I’m not quite sure when they recorded this, but it definitely seems reflective. I’ve always enjoyed the fact that they hire locals or random people that they know. Quite honestly, that’s more interesting than hearing about how Murray or Quaid looked at the script and agreed. At times throughout there’s a couple of awkward pauses as if they weren’t willing or ready to talk about KINGPIN
Kingpins: Extra Frames with the Farrelly Brothers (19:14): This is a one-on-one conversation with the directors, intercut with scenes from the movies; even a previous interview. It gives a little bit more than what you would get with the commentary. The keys would be how the film is viewed retrospectively from an outsider’s point of view and also a couple of their more interesting casting choices. I wish it would have had some of the actor’s opinions, but maybe they’re not as fond of KINGPIN as the directors.