Februrary 18, 2013
Woody Harrelson, Randy Quaid, Vanessa Angel, and Bill Murray
day, when people say the name Munson, they're gonna think "winner."
Just like DiMaggio is to baseball or, or Unitas is to football, that's
what Munson will be to bowling." -Calvert Munson
Oh, the mighty Kingpin. This has long been one of
favorite comedies of the 90's, yet for some reason it never gets the
praise that the other two movies in the famous "Farrelly Brothers
Trilogy" have received. And that is a shame because, if you
me, this is probably my favorite of the three. Yes that's
I will come right out and say it. I like Kingpin
than I like There's Something About Mary. And that is saying
something, when you consider that TSAM is one of my top twenty favorite
comedies of all time.
If you guys don't know the history behind Kingpin, if you don't know
the story behind the legend of Roy Munson, Claudia the Whore, Skidmark,
and "Big Ern" Ernie McCracken, let me fill you in. Because
movie has a lot in common with another underappreciated comedy that I
wrote about earlier on my list, Top Secret.
In 1994, the Farrelly Brothers made their debut with a comedy that got
everyone talking. That's right, I can only be talking about
and Dumber. The king of comedies in 1994. A movie
this day, still holds my own personal record because I saw it seven
different times in the theater. Which doesn't really say so
about the quality of the movie, as it does about the fact that I didn't
have a whole lot to do in 1994.
Anyway, Dumb and Dumber was a
big hit. And then after it was a big hit people were
awaiting the next big Farrelly Brothers comedy. Because
seriously, how do you top Dumb and Dumber? How do you top a
comedy that was that popular and was that funny, and was that big a hit
Well Kingpin was how they topped it.
Kingpin came out in 1996 and it was the Farrelly Brothers'
follow-up to Dumb and Dumber.
The Rubber Man
And of course Kingpin was a huge flop.
to my dying day, I will never understand why Kingpin was a flop.
I mean this movie is fucking hilarious. It was an
classic the moment it appeared on a movie screen. Yet for
reason it never made any money. Nobody went to see it.
this is despite the fact that it had BILL MURRAY in it. Here
have Bill Murray, maybe the funniest actor of all time, in what I would
say is arguably his funniest role in a movie ever, in a Farrelly
Brothers comedy that was riding on the success of Dumb and Dumber, and
for some inexplicable reason it just never found an audience.
will never understand how that happened.
By the way, if you
think I am confused how this movie never found an audience, you should
read a Farrelly Brothers interview sometime. Watch
happens whenever somebody brings up Kingpin. Watch how
even THEY are that this movie never found an audience. In
they aren't just confused about it, they have flat out admitted that
their feelings were hurt over it. They have always
very personally that the movie that they probably consider their best
(Kingpin) is universally considered one of their worst.
after Kingpin flopped, their third movie (There's Something About Mary)
came out in 1998. And naturally, that one was a huge smash.
Once TSAM came out, all the critics started touting the
Brothers as the kings of comedy movies in the 1990's. And how
everything they touched turned to gold. And how they were the
best comedy writing team since Jim Abrahams and the Zucker Brothers.
And meanwhile the Farrelly Brothers are still hurt that
everyone dissed their second movie so badly. They were sitting there
thinking well okay that's all well and good, but what about our
By the way, if you think I am making this up,
listen to the DVD commentary of There's Something About Mary sometime.
The Farrelly Brothers flat out admit in the commentary that
were pissed that everyone ignored Kingpin so badly, and they figured
they only had one more chance to make their mark in Hollywood and go
out with a bang. So they just wrote a bunch of outrageous and
incredibly R rated scenes that would never be allowed to be shown in a
comedy. That's right, TSAM was a spite movie if there ever
one. They only wrote it so they could flop even worse than
Kingpin and go out with a bang.
Then of course TSAM turned out to be a huge hit, and they were as
surprised as anyone.
Hates franks and beans
And now you are asking, okay well then how is Kingpin like Top Secret?
that's easy. If you know anything about the Zucker Brothers,
will know that if there is one movie they have always been sensitive
about, it is Top Secret. That is the movie that they
considered to be their masterpiece. Yet just like Kingpin it
turned out to be a big flop. Nowadays Top Secret is
little more that "that other movie" that is sandwiched between two
masterpieces. It is the movie between Airplane! and The Naked
that no one remembers.
In fact I remember
reading an interview once with the Zucker Brothers, where they admitted
that their feelings were hurt that the movie that they loved so much
and had so much fun making (Top Secret) never really caught on the way
that their other movies did. Which is EXACTLY the way that
Farrelly Brothers describe Kingpin. Right down the fact that
sets of brothers will talk about how pissed they were and how much
pressure was on them when they sat down to make that third movie.
is what I will tell you about Kingpin. I will finish off my
review with four things I have always wanted to say about it.
Then I will leave you on your own and you can go watch it (or
rewatch it) for yourself.
I said, Kingpin came out in 1996. I was 22 years old.
just graduated from college and I didn't have a whole lot to do at the
moment. And I remember just being overjoyed when I first saw
previews for it.
An Amish bowling comedy! From the directors of Dumb and
Dumber! Starring Bill Murray and Woody Harrelson!
anyone who knows me can tell you that Woody Harrelson is one of my
favorite underrated actors of all time. I think he is
in everything. And of course you know how I feel about Bill
Murray. I could have told you this movie would be an instant
classic the moment I saw that first promo. There was no
that a movie with Woody Harrelson and Bill Murray about an Amish
bowling prodigy could NOT be funny. I mean, come on.
movie could have been made by Tommy Wiseau and it might have actually
been pretty good.
Oh hai Brother Hezekiah, maybe you should get a girl
Well my wife and I had planned out a
cross country drive in the summer of 1996 (right after we graduated
from college), and I did the math in my head and I realized that
Kingpin was coming out the exact same day we were going to be in
Elkhart, Indiana. Which, if you don't know Elkhart, is
That's right, I was going to be in Amish country
the day that the Amish bowling comedy came out. I was going
able to see Kingpin in actual Amish country.
I mean, how awesome is that? How could ANYONE pass up a
bucket list moment like that?
You know, I hate to admit this, but I never
got to see Kingpin in Elkhart, Indiana. I had intended to.
Half of our cross country trip was kind of based around the
that I was going to be able to see Kingpin in actual Amish country.
But sadly, the day we were in Indiana it turned out not to be
playing anywhere. Plus I think we had just driven 14 hours
day or something and I was exhausted.
In any case, I never got a chance to see Kingpin in Amish country and
it haunts me to this day.
didn't see it until we got back to California a couple of days later.
And of course it was as awesome as I knew it would be.
Okay that was the first thing I wanted to say about Kingpin.
The second thing I wanted to say was "Roy Munson."
That's it. That's all I have to say. Roy Munson.
One of the greatest movie characters of all time.
Kingpin was the movie that gave us Roy
Munson. Kingpin was the movie that gave us the phrase "I hope
don't get Munsoned out here in the middle of nowhere."
was the movie that gave us the definition "Munsoned = to be up shit
creek without a paddle; to have the world in the palm of your hand and
then piss it all away."
Kingpin would make this list even if Roy Munson was the only thing it
had going for it.
And naturally, Woody Harrelson was the perfect actor to play Roy Munson.
Sweeter than Yoohoo
Okay the next memorable thing about this movie.
The gross old landlady.
Yeah you didn't think I was going to let you get away without posting a
picture of her, did you?
down, Roy Munson's landlady is one of my favorite characters in any of
the Farrelly Brothers movies. She steals every single scene
is in, and I remember just nearly falling out of my seat laughing the
first time I saw her. In fact I can only think of maybe ten
scenes in the history of comedy movies that made me laugh harder than
the first time I saw "What is it about good sex that makes me
to crap? You really jarred something loose, Tiger."
most people remember that scene, "Pump and dump."
Good lord. I am sitting here just remembering that scene and
I am cracking up. I need to go watch it again.
I said, I remembering seeing the pump and dump scene the first time in
the theater and it almost knocked me onto the floor. When
say "I laughed so hard I nearly fell out of my chair," they are almost
always exaggerating. But in this case I am really not.
and Dump and the baseball scene in the Naked Gun are the two scenes I
can say honestly made me laugh so hard that my stomach hurt.
Sorry, couldn't resist
the way, if you want some fun movie trivia, the gross old landlady in
Kingpin was played by Lin Shaye, who is in almost all of the Farrelly
Brothers movies. She is sort of their good luck charm.
You can also see her as Mrs. Nugeborn at the start of Dumb
Dumber and as Magda in There's Something About Mary. And
the nasty characters she tends to play, she is actually quite sweet and
pleasant looking in real life. I don't know how she wound up
"the gross old character in every Farrelly Brothers comedy" but hey
sometimes you just find a niche.
The best of Lin Shaye
and now we come to the most memorable thing about Kingpin. Or
most memorable character, if you will. And you know who I am
going to say.
That's right. It is the guy who I recently claimed was my
favorite movie villain of all time.
It is Big Ern himself, the one and only Bill Murray.
This is what I will always love about Kingpin.
are two great iconic characters in this movie. You have Roy
Munson. And you have the gross old landlady. In ANY
comedy, those two characters would be the ones that you always
remember. In any other comedy, those two characters would
been a really big deal.
But in Kingpin you barely remember either one of them.
Because they both get overshadowed by Bill Murray.
I wrote a while back, somebody once asked Bill Murray in an interview
to name two really funny Bill Murray movies. And Bill himself
didn't even hesitate. He said "Quick Change and the first
Ghostbusters." Which are two really good choices.
But that interview came out right before he made Kingpin.
you asked -me- to name two really funny Bill Murray movies, well I am
sorry Ghostbusters but I would say you just got knocked off the list.
And my apologies to my friend Chris, who I know is reading
and who is the biggest Ghostbusters fan alive. But if you
ME, I would say the two funniest Bill Murray movies are Kingpin and
Quick Change. And yes, in that order.
I don't think
Bill Murray will ever play a better character than Big Ern.
not sure if anyone (in a comedy) will ever play any character better
than Big Ern. This is the ultimate choice of the perfect
for the perfect role.
And here is the most amazing thing about this movie.
Murray didn't even follow a script. The Farrelly Brothers
him a script on day one and he just threw it in the garbage.
Cause Bill Murray don't work with scripts. That's
Bill Murray do. Every single scene with Ernie
it was just Bill Murray improvising.
With an assist from the combover
so there you have it. Kingpin. One of my all time
comedies, featuring three of my all time favorite comedy characters.
I could live to the age of a hundred, and I will never
how a movie like this didn't find an audience. In my opinion
is the best movie of the Farrelly Brothers trilogy. And
really really love There's Something About Mary. And I saw
and Dumber seven times in the theater. That should tell you
By the way, if there is one complaint I could make about Kingpin
(really there is only one) I would say that I wish that a stronger
actor had played the Amish bowling prodigy Ishmael. I mean,
Quaid does okay, but that was a role that should have been knocked out
of the park. It wasn't supposed to be "he did okay."
remember Bill Simmons of Grantland once writing that if someone like
Will Ferrell had played Ishmael, Kingpin would have been the
funniest movie ever. And I would agree with that.
as I love Kingpin, I can only wonder how good it would have been if
somebody other than Randy Quaid had been in it.
Oh well. Just a minor quibble. In any case, Kingpin
movie that should be just as beloved as Dumb and Dumber and There's
Something About Mary, so let's get working on that. And I
can't be the only
one out there who feels this way.
Bye, brother Munson. Bye, whore.
favorite IMDB user reviews about Kingpin:
This is a screaming
laugher - 6 November 1998
around with nothing better to do, my wife and I thought we'd give a 1
1/2 star Woody Harrelson movie a chance. Terrible reviews. No one saw
it. No one heard of it.
In the first half hour we were in pain
from laughing so hard. Only people who saw it will understand the
following: "I milked the cow. She sure was hard to warm up." It took me
15 minutes to recover from the next few seconds of punchline. I had to
roll off the couch and get down on the floor before I FELL on the floor.
There are about 15 BIG laughs and maybe 30 smaller ones.
went into IMBD the next day to read what real people (not critics) had
to say. Critics didn't like "Ferris Bueller" or "Airplane" either. IMBD
clued me that this was made by the same guys who did "Dumb &
Dumber" and "There's Something about Mary." If those two screamers
aren't to your taste, you'll be with the critics on "Kingpin." Comedy
works differently for different people.
Full of truly original
humor. RUN don't walk to rent it. I have 1153 movies on tape and am
kicking myself for not taping this for visitors who ask me to show them
something they may have missed.
Besides Caddyshack, one
of the greatest comedies ever penned... - 21 November 2000
is as funny as a movie gets. I put it up there with Caddyshack and
Naked Gun in terms of "laugh of loud" funny. When I read that Siskel
and Ebert put it in their list of "Top 10 Movies of 1996", I knew this
was no ordinary bathroom humor flick. The Farrelly Brothers are so
slick at hiding great jokes into ordinary dialogue. The best parts are
hidden and the more you watch this movie, the more jokes you will find.
So, if you watched this and did not find it funny, rent it again. I am
telling you, this movie is fantastic. Harrelson is terrific as a bald,
dim-witted bowler with a hook for a hand. I mean, come on now, that
description alone makes me laugh. This movie blows "There's Something
About Mary" away. Great soundtrack as well.
I Almost Died Of Laughter
- 3 February 2009
of course is not a great movie but I just have to give it a 10/10. I
have never laughed more in my life. Even the jokes that aren't funny
are funny. This film's comedic build up is about the best you will ever
see. It doesn't even matter what the punch line is, it's how they get
it that's hilarious.
Now this cast was perfect. Anytime you have
Randy Quaid in a film you just know the film is going to make you life
just by looking at him. Kingpin couldn't have shown this any better as
he plays an Amish man who just happens to be amazingly talented at
bowling. Woody Harrelson plays a has-been ex-professional bowler who
makes a comeback with managing through Randy Quaid. Together they go on
a ride across the country making money left and right. Along the
journey they are great supporting comedic performances given by Bill
Murray and Vanessa Angel who certainly makes the look of the film more
The Farrelly brothers in my opinion give their best
direction they've yet to have. Yet it is the writers who so perfectly
set up one joke after another. It seems as if the script is so sharp
that their are jokes within jokes. The Farrelly brother handle this
material so well by virtual unknowns.
As I have said before this
is not a great film but I would highly recommend this if your in the
mood of watching something spontaneous. It may not be the most
technically sound movie ever made or the deepest but I have never
laughed so much in life and that in it self is what comedies are about.
One of the Funniest
Movies Ever Made - 4 February 2013
legend Roy Munson (Woody Harrelson) loses a hand to a group of drunks
after trying to con them with fellow bowler Ernie McCracken (Bill
Murray). Now a drunk promoter with a fake rubber hand, Munson is a
shadow of his former self until he hears the fateful sound of a strike.
Amish prodigy Ishmael (Randy Quaid) stands to be Munson's shot at
winning the largest tournament in the country, but the road there is
paved with consequence.
This is one of the funniest movies ever
made. The Farrelly brothers have given us countless laughs, but this is
their best. It brings together some of the most unexpected actors, many
out of their element in a comedy, to flawlessly turn a script into a
comedic work of art. The laughs are typical Farrelly gross out while
remaining truly, deeply funny.
Woody Harrelson turns in one of
his best performances as the down-but-not-out Munson, wearing a
ridiculous wig, outdated clothing, and always his fake rubber hand.
Each scene he's in is a lesson in how to lead a comedy, and reminds one
of his early days on "Cheers" as the bartender Woody Boyd. His co-star
in Quaid is the same; whether it be the murderous, greedy Sheriff is
"Hard Rain", or here as the hilariously simple sure relative of the
"Vacation" movies Cousin Eddie, Randy Quaid proves his ever surprising
versatility as an actor.
Bill Murray also fires on all cylinders
as the over the top McCracken, Harrelson's arch-nemesis. Murray's last
scene is one of the best in the movie; with his hair tossed every which
way and his eyes flooding with tears he makes you shocked that he's
only been nominated for one Oscar. Vanessa Angel is mostly eye candy
but she doesn't have to make up for any acting downfalls.
is well-cast, well-written, consistently engaging and always funny.
It brings together a diverse cast and a great script to make one of the
funniest movies of our time. Strike it off your bucket list.
funny - 25 October 1998
went to see There's Something About Mary and liked it so much that I
decided to rent Kingpin for the hell of it. I'll probably get into some
heat for saying this, but, I actually liked this one more than Mary.
Harrelson, Quaid, Murray, etc. are all funnier than Dillon or Diaz or
even Stiller, I think they have a lot more comedic talent than any of
Mary's various players. Don't get me wrong though, I liked Mary, I just
loved Kingpin. It's a shame that Mary turned out to be the money maker
and almost no one's ever heard of this one. I hope that when people go
see Mary, they'll do their research on the Farrelly brothers and check
this one out. I just have one request to the brothers for their next
film, don't hire that Chris Elliot guy, he just really sucks.
Best Comedy I Have Ever
Seen - 19 November 2011
take my comedy seriously (no pun intended). I grew up watching the
original cast of SNL, three stooges and actors like Gene Wilder. They
all had something special, and I think remain extremely special 30
years later. Kingpin has that rare "something special". I had to watch
this movie a few times before I fully appreciated the "once in a
lifetime" performances by Harrelson and Murray, and outstanding writing
by the Farrelly brothers.
This movie, unlike most other comedies
I've seen, continually provides genuinely funny moments throughout the
entire movie. There are very few comedies I have ever watched that I
can say the same about. It's like all the stars in the sky aligned for
one perfect moment and in that moment they filmed "Kingpin".
this film may not be for every one. It's crude, rude and in your face
comedy. It's typical Farrelly brother fare. If you like that, or even
if you don't and just like the silly comedy of Bill Murray (before he
went all serious) - then this movie is well worth a watch. Definitely a
10 out of 10 in my book.
I Love This Movie - 7
don't understand why this movie has such a low rating on this site, but
then again, I tend to believe that most people don't fully understand
Kingpin. There are a lot of people out there that will say this is a
slapstick movie, full of fart jokes and low-brow humor. Those kind of
comments frustrate me, because it's my contention that Kingpin is the
best of the Farrelly brothers' movies. In fact, Kingpin is one of my
favorite movies of the 90's. Not only is the humor in the movie a lot
more complex than some people realize, the story is original, honest,
and entertaining. I highly recommend this movie to anyone, and if you
enjoy it half as much as I did, believe me, you won't be sorry you
favorite trivia about Kingpin:
(some good stuff here, check these out)
* Bill Murray really bowled three strikes in a row in the scene
where his character, Ernie McCracken does the same. The crowd's
reaction is genuine and is actually for Murray. Woody Harrelson, on the
other hand, was a terrible bowler and according to the Farrelly
brothers maybe got one or two strikes throughout the filming.
* According to Chris Farley's agent Doug Robinson, Chris was
offered the part of Ishmael, but his contractual obligation to appear
in Black Sheep derailed this plan.
* As is the case with most of his films, Bill Murray ad-libbed
virtually every line he spoke. He would read over the script, get the
general idea, and then discard it. The Farrelly brothers, on the DVD
commentary, said that they're very glad he did, because it was funnier.
* The entire commercial Ernie McCracken does for the kids, is ad libbed
by Bill Murray with only the scenes scripted.
* Jim Carrey was the first choice of the Farrelly brothers to play
* In the Cheers episode Cheers: From Beer to Eternity Woody Boyd,
played by Woody Harrelson, reveals that he is an ex-bowling ace who
retired due to crippling a man in a bowling accident. In this film his
character is forced into retirement due to a bowling injury at the
hands of Ernie McCracken.
Major League Baseball pitcher Roger Clemens has a small cameo
the film. In the restaurant scene where Roy punches out
Ishmael, Clemens plays the part of Skidmark. Clemens currently
ranks 8th on the
All Time wins list for major league baseball pitchers.
* In the big bowling tournament at the end, an unseen person in the
stands yells "Attaboy, Luther!" Every time Don Knotts
speaks in public in The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, an unseen person also
yells "Attaboy, Luther!".
* In the scene in the bowling alley
restaurant just before Ishmael is about to get beaten up, the three are
eating burgers and fries. However, Roy is eating a salad because actor
Woody Harrelson is a vegan.
* Roy, played by Woody Harrelson,
dreams that the Gambler will pay him $1,000,000 to sleep with Ishmael.
This is a reference to Indecent Proposal also starring Harrelson.
* The person shouting "Ernie, you 'da man!" at the final showdown
between McCracken and Munson, is Will Ferrell.
John Popper, lead singer and harmonica player for Blues Traveler, has a
bit part as the announcer for the Reno bowling championship. Popper, in
Amish garb, appears at the end of the movie playing one of their songs.
favorite quotes from Kingpin:
Sometimes when I wake up in the morning Mr. McCracken's already there.
[after punching out Ishmael]
that, you freaky piece of shit! You don't mow another guy's lawn!
Roy: Hey, I
don't mind, I got up a little early, so I took the liberty of milking
your cow for you. Yeah, it took a little while to get her warmed up,
she sure is a stubborn one. Then, POW, all at once.
[He takes a drink from the bucket]
We don't have a cow. We have a bull.
brush my teeth.
frames? [scoffs] That's
Roy, can you get sick drinkin' piss?
Roy: I think
Even if it's your own?
Mr. Boorg: How
many children do you have, Brother Hezekiah?
none that I know of.
[Adopting a terrible Irish accent]
Roy: What I
mean to say is, I was, uh, wee, I'm unable to have children. Nasty
cheese gratin' accident as a young man.
because you're familiar with the missionary position doesn't make you a
throwing up in the background after having had sex with his Landlady,
to keep from being evicted. The Landlady is too satisfied to
is it about good sex that makes me have to crap? I guess it's all that
pumpin'. Pump and dump.
[She laughs at her own jokes]
You really jarred something loose, tiger.
It's a small world when you've got unbelievable tits Roy.
Roy: I know
what you're thinking, but let me explain...
[Claudia kicks Roy in the crotch]
softly] You must have a really wide foot because you got both of them
sure, Thomas can raise a barn, but can he pick up a 7-10 split?
blessed my brother to be a good carpenter. It's okay.
well, he blessed you, too, and I'll give you a clue what it is. It's
round, it has three holes, and you stick your fingers into it.
leave Rebecca out of this, mister!
talking about bowling! Your future!
[Roy Munson is getting ready for his turn to bowl]
It all comes down to this roll. Roy Munson, a man-child, with a dream
to topple bowling giant Ernie McCracken. If he strikes, he's the 1979
Odor-Eaters Champion. He's got one foot in the frying pan and one in
the pressure cooker. Believe me, as a bowler, I know that right about
now, your bladder feels like an overstuffed vacuum cleaner bag and your
butt is kinda like an about-to-explode bratwurst.
Roy: Hey. Do
you mind? I wasn't talking when you were bowling.
Ernie McCracken: Was
I talking out loud? Was I? Sorry. Good luck.
didn't want to be the one to tell him, but with those narrow hips, that
girl couldn't have more than 6 or 7 children!
You got a great gift, son. It's as if angels came down from heaven and
put a blessing on your three bowling digits. You can apply everything
that I've taught you about bowling to your daily life. And if you do
that, you're gonna be decent, you're gonna be moral, and you're going
to be a good man.
favorite scene in Kingpin:
Man, asking me to pick between Pump and Dump and the final bowling
match with Big Ern is like asking me to pick which one of my children I
love the most. I can't do it. Okay, fine.
off kilter and pick the scene where Big Ern shakes Roy's hand, he gets
creeped out because it is made of rubber, so he pulls it off and he
flings it into the crowd as a souvenir. Again, completely ad
libbed by Bill Murray. And it kills me every time.
at the IMDB
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