Tuesday, September 11, 2007
KINGPIN (1996) - Bobby Farrelly and Peter Farrelly
Bobby and Peter Farrelly first came to prominence in 1994 with Dumb And Dumber, a film that helped in the meteroic rise of Jim Carrey. In 1998, they hit the big time with There’s Something About Mary. But in between these two success, the writer-director brothers had a bit of a miss-fire with the bowling movie, Kingpin.
Roy Munson is a young bowler who becomes state champion in 1979. In the final, he faced bowling legend, Ernie McCracken. McCracken, the sleaziest of sleaze-bags sees his chance to take advantage of the naive Munson and uses him to hustle some unsavory types out of some money. McCracken leaves Munson to the mercy of the gangsters and they take Munson’s hand as payment fot the cash they lost. Seventeen years later, Munson, now a one-handed alcoholic bowling supply salesman spots a young Amish man with a talent for the ten pin game. Munson convinces the Amish man, Ishmael to take to the professional bowling circuit to raise money to save his family’s farm.
I have to admit, I’m a pretty big fan of most of the Farrelly brothers films I’ve seen. While they’ve never been the types of films to challenge the intellect, they’ve got their own niche, and the gross out humor in these films always raise a chuckle. So I’ve been looking to watch Kingpin for quite a while. I just never got around to it. And to be honest, I wasn’t really missing anything. There’s nothing particularly wrong with the film, it’s just not as funny as Dumb And Dumber, There’s Something About Mary, or even Me, Myself And Irene.
The cast, led by Woody Harrelson as Roy Munson and Randy Quaid are perfectly fine. Harrelson’s a very decent actor, and can make the switch between the naive young Munson and the world beaten older Roy Quite well. Quaid, who had experience with the National Lampoons movies and Saturday Night Live is also perfectly fine. But if there’s one reason to watch the movie, it’s Bill Murray’s turn as Ernie McCracken. Murray, one of the greatest comedic actors of all time, steals every single scene he’s in. His character is kind of like the worst aspects of every sleaze-ball Murray’s ever played rolled into one character. However, his character isn’t in the film nearly enough.
I can understand why Kingpin isn’t accepted as a Farrelly great. They did well with Dumb and Dumber. And it feels like this movie was an exercise in working out the kinks before they hit pay-dirt with There’s Something About Mary. Not awful. But not particularly good.