Kingpin is a 1996 buddy-comedy film starring Woody Harrelson, Randy Quaid, Vanessa Angel and Bill Murray. It tells the story of an alcoholic ex-bowler who becomes the manager of a promising Amish talent. The movie was filmed in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Amish country and Reno, Navada.
Roy Munson has a promising bowling career, and after winning the 1979 Iowa championship he defeats established bowler Ernie McCracken. McCracken takes the loss poorly and seeks revenge, and one night gets Roy to swindle a group of local bowlers. The bowlers then catch on and McCracken leaves Roy to fend for himself, they then force his hand into the pin setter effectively ending his career.
Seventeen years later Roy is sadder, wiser and minus his bowling hand. Forced to use a prosthetic hand he is down on his rent and tries to be a bowling salesman, an unsuccessful job. Behind on his rent he agrees to sexual favors with his landlady. While trying again to sell bowling supplies he sees a promising talent named Ishmael Boorg. Roy tries to convince him to turn pro and let him be his manager, but Ishmael declines.
Roy then learns Ishmael's bowling is a secret hobby he hides from his Amish family. He then disguises himself as a traveling Amish man, and after discovering that the family is going to lose the farm he convinces Ishmael to join hm. Roy tries to teach Ishmael his ways and prepare him for a bowling contest in Reno, Navada. He quickly discovers that Ish does not know the gimmicks and tricks of bowling.
Ishmael then defeats a pro bowler named Stanley Osmanski, who then discovers Roy bet with fake money. The two then flee from Osmanski's mansion along with his now ex-girlfriend Claudia who was also a victim of his abuse. The three then start hustling bowlers using Claudia's looks and sex appeal. One night Claudia and Roy get into a fist fight which causes Ishmael to run away.
Desperate to find Ishmael they drive through Roy's hometown Ocelot, Minnesota. Roy discovers that the once flourishing town is now desolate and abandoned. He and Claudia drive up to his father's auto shop, and Roy admits that he never had the courage to come back after his failed career. Claudia realizes that Roy has been through a lot and they decide to forgive and forget. The two then rescue Ishmael from a strip club and continue en route to Reno.
Upon arrival they run into Ernie McCracken, whose bowling career has flourished but he is extremely stuck up and cruel. He insults and ridicules Roy for his disability, but denies ever doing him any wrong. Ishmael angrily tries to punch him, but misses and breaks his hand. McCracken flees and Ishmael discovers he can't bowl, but insists Roy take his place. At the same time Stanley has tracked down Claudia, who offers to go with him on the condition he doesn't harm Roy or Ishmael.
Roy is able to bowl in Ishmael's place, but tensions rise when he is pitted against McCracken. Ishmael's brother comes to take him home, and Roy then discovers he is all by himself. Roy cracks under pressure and loses to McCracken, who celebrates the victory by once again insulting Roy. Roy is then tracked down by Stanley who blames him for Claudia stealing all his money, and asks what his affiliation is to McCracken. Roy then says that he thought he was responsible for runing his bowling career, but he isn't. Stanley then decides to go find McCracken.
Roy returns home to Scranton and is seen pouring all his liquor down the drain. Claudia shows up and reveals that she called McCracken to throw Stanley off her trail. She then shows Roy the money she has, but he then shows her that he has been endorsed by a company that sells condoms. The two then decide there is only one way to invest the money, they generously give it to the Amish to save their farm. Roy then covers up Ishmael's sins and makes him a hero to his farm. As he and Claudia prepare to leave they discover that they have fallen in love, share a kiss and drive off.
- Woody Harrelson as Roy Munson
- Will Rothaar as young Roy
- Randy Quaid as Ishmael Boorg
- Vanessa Angel as Claudia
- Bill Murray as Ernie McCracken
- Chris Elliot as the Gambler
- Lin Shaye as Roy's landlady
- Rob Moran as Stanley Osmanski
- Chris Schenkel as himself
- Nelson Burton, Jr. as himself
- P. W. Evans as himself
- Roger Clemmens as Skidmark
Will Ferrell also provides several voices of the crowd cheering Roy on during the tournament, but he was not credited.
While "Kingpin" was critically acclaimed it was not a box office hit, this was due to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer under marketing the film. With a budget of $32.2 million it only recouped $25 million in box office ticket sales. The film however did much better on home video and in television airings, and over the years has become a cult classic.
In 1999 MGM Home Entertainment released Kingpin on DVD, but with a few deleted scenes seamlessly integrated back in. This version would receive an R rating for Crude Sex Related Humor, and would be the only version available on DVD until 2010 when MGM's home video license expired.
Kingpin made its home video debut in 1996 on VHS, LaserDisc in 1998 and DVD in 1999. In 2014 Paramount Pictures released a Blu-Ray of the film along with a new DVD. The Blu-Ray featured both the theatrical and extended cut, where as the DVD only features the theatrical version.
The soundtrack was released by the now-defunct A&M Records on June 16, 1996, It is now out of print due to A&M Records shutting down and UMG's refusal to re-issue the soundtrack.
- 1. "She Came On" by Super Deluxe
- 2. "But Anyway" by Blues Traveler
- 3. "Save It for Later" by The Beat
- 4. "Superman" by Goldfinger
- 5. "Ooh La La" by Red Eye
- 6. "Disco Inferno" by The Trammps
- 7. "Surely (I Love You)" by Colin James
- 8. "Miss Fabulous" by Jono Manson Band
- 9. "Soon Enough" by Josh Clayton-Felt
- 10. "This Perfect World" by Freedy Johnston
- 11. "I Saw the Light" by Todd Rundgren
- 12. "We Should Always Be Together" by William Goodrum