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HTS Moderator , Reviewer
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Discussion Starter #1

Title: Kingpin

Movie: :4.5stars:
Video: :4.5stars:
Audio: :4stars:
Extras: :2.5stars:

HTS Overall Score:83

Comedy is one of those subjective things in the film industry, and one person’s “Blazing Saddles” is another person’s “Superbad”. No one person is ever alike, but I have only heard ONE person in my entire life who has said that they don’t like “Kingpin”. Yes, you heard me right, ONE person. The Farrelly brothers had just gotten off making “Dumb and Dumber”, their first flick, and they were rolling in fresh ideas. Surprisingly enough they two brothers didn’t exact get a lot of support for their sophomore film, even having to cast multiple times just to get a good lineup for the film. Shockingly enough it underperformed at the box office by a GOOD margin, but then exploded on home video, reaching an enormous cult standing. Filled with humor, heart and plenty of a bad taste, “Kingpin” is a runaway train from beginning to end and all you can do is hang on for the ride.

Ron Munson (Woody Harrelson) is the king of bowlers in 1979. He’s beaten his nemesis, Ernie McCracken (Bill Murray), and the whole world is at his fingertips. This is all about to change as McCracken sets him up for beating, resulting in the loss of his bowling hand. Vanishing into the woodworks, Roy spends the next 17 years drinking and slumming around, just trying to rub two nickels together. Nothing seems to be going his way until he runs into Ishmael (Randy Quaid), a goofy Amish guy who can bowl like a champion. Seeing dollar signs in his eyes, Roy goes to convince the backwards (in his mind’s eye) fella into coming under his wing to be trained for the yearly bowling championship, which will net the pair a cool million dollars. Convincing Ishmael seems futile, until the Amish boy learns that his family needs half a million dollars to keep the farm from being foreclosed on. This final straw turns him over to the dark side and the pair head out to Reno for the tournament. Along the way they pick up Claudia (Vanessa Angel), a gorgeous damsel in distress who hitches a ride when Roy and Ishmael hustle the wrong guy for a few extra bucks. Soon their litter adventure turns out a lot bigger.

Roy is still a weasel of a guy, and is doing his best to groom Ishmael to win him all that money, and soon turns the naïve young man into a boozing, gambling, smoking wild child, trying out all the pleasures life has to offer. This can’t last forever though, as his naiveté ends up backfiring just before the tournament, sending him out of the contest with a broken hand after a run in with Ernie McCracken. Now, after 17 years of living in the gutter, Roy has to step up to the plate and play, and re defeat the same man who left him with a prosthetic all those years ago.


“Kingpin” is one of those films where you just can’t stop laughing from the time the opening credits start to the ending credits fading to black. Back in the mid 90’s the Farrelly Brothers were on top of their game, rolling out hit after hit, starting with the famed Jim Carrey comedy, “Dumb and Dumber”. “Kingpin” is right on par for the course, with stellar performances by Woody, Randy and Bill Murray all around the table. Bill is pure comic gold, adlibbing most of his short time on screen and Randy Quaid hams it up to the audience, playing his stupid shtick that he perfected in his “Vacation” movies. Bill and Woody’s comb overs are so bad that I kept giggling every time the pair of oafs came on screen as Bobby and Peter play the crowd with tongue so firmly planted in cheek that I don’t think it’s ever coming out.

The Farrelly Brothers have a very unique style of humor, as they don’t have a lot of language, any graphic nudity or what not, but rely on good old fashioned poor taste humor to get their yucks. After “Dumb and Dumber” I actually skipped “Kingpin” and went straight on to “There’s something about Mary” until much later in my life when I rented it on home video. Color me pink and put a diaper on me, but I have to say that besides “Dumb and Dumber”, “Kingpin” has to be their quintessential comedy. In their later years the pair went off the deep end with the gross out humor, but in these earlier outings the duo had the perfect balance of sardonic wit, and crude humor that blended in a way that’s just flat out hysterical, both intellectually and in a low brow way. The film has a few hiccups, especially near the beginning when we start to see Roy and what lows he’s brought upon himself, but when Randy Quaid enters the arena the tow lead actors play off of each other with a fantastic chemistry that’s hard to not enjoy.


Rated PG-13 for crude sex-related humor and a drug scene / Rated R for some Sex related Humor

Video :4.5stars:
Catalog titles are always hit or miss for the studios, as we never know just when the master for a particular film was produced. With the debacle that happened this week with “The Neverending Story” I wasn’t holding high hopes for “Kingpin”, but me shocked when I saw a transfer that wasn’t just good, but looks simply fantastic on Blu-ray disc. The original 2.39:1 film is presented in its OAR with a nice, natural layer of grain over a very filmic looking movie. The grain is laid on well, given that 1990’s film stock, but is never so thick that it becomes distracting or annoying. Detail shines through just fine and aside from a few long shots that look a bit blurry, 95% of the film looks exquisite with tons of detail that I have never seen before while watching “Kingpin”. Black levels are excellent and the disc looks free of any compression artifacts or digital manipulation. I was worried that the master would be DNR’d to death, but thankfully they eased off on that dial for this release. Contrasts are nice and the Pittsburgh scenery is beautiful with a nice country color palette to it.

Audio :4stars:
The 5.1 DTS-HD MA English audio isn’t AS fantastic as the video, but it’s actually quite an impressive track for a comedy. There isn’t a whole lot of LFE to the audio, but it does come in to play when the score kicks up, otherwise my subs amps didn’t light up a whole lot. However, the dialogue is crystal clear and has a great sense of depth and clarity to it, with lots of little nuances, like car doors slamming off to the side, the screech of tires or the rattle of a ball rolling from one end of the sound stage to the other. The surrounds were used quite often, bringing a lot of ambient noises to light and rounding out the track rather nicely. Except for the rather anemic LFE, I don’t think the track could be much better.

Extras :2.5stars:

• Commentary by Directors Peter and Bobby Farrelly
• Kingpins: Extra Frames with the Farrelly Brothers
• Theatrical Trailer

Overall: :4.5stars:

A good comedy is one that can span years, even decades and still end up being as funny as the day it was introduced to viewers, and “Kingpin” has gained its cult status for that very same reason. I had to hit the rewind button at least half a dozen times over the two hours, because I was laughing so hard I started to miss scenes. Woody, Randy and Bill are a dynamite combination for comedy and the Farrelly brothers were on the top of their game in 1996 so there is very little to dislike about the movie. To round out the mix the Blu-ray is given the extended cut AND the theatrical cut in one location, with 4 minutes of extras laughs spliced back into the film. Given a fantastic image on Blu-ray with very solid audio along with the extended cut gives this a definite must watch from me, especially if you have a weak sport for good old fashioned low brow comedy.

Additional Information:

Starring: Woody Harrelson, Randy Quaid, Bill Murray, Vanessa Angel
Directed By: Bobby and Peter Farrelly
Written By: Bobby Fanaro, Mort Nathan
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 AVC
Audio: ENGLISH: DTS-HD MA 5.1, Spanish, French DD 2.0
Studio: Paramount
Rated: PG-13 / R
Runtime: 113 minutes / 117 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: October 14th 2014

Buy Kingpin Blu-ray on Amazon

Recommendation: Watch It!

More about Mike

2,761 Posts
I remember watching this movie over and over. I still own the vhs and glad it is now on bluray. The movie is really funny and of course Vanessa Angel is indeed an Angel ;)

Premium Member
4,363 Posts
One of my favorite comedies of all time. Thanks again for another quality review Mike and I'll be picking this one up on the day it's released.

HTS Moderator , Reviewer
5,742 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
i'm with both of you. this is one of those classics like "Liar Liar" and "Dumb and Dumber" where you can quote every line of the movie and have worth through at least ONE VHS copy over the years :D
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