Kingpin (1996)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Buddy Film, Road Movie  |   Release Date - Jul 26, 1996 (USA)  |   Run Time - 113 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - PG13
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Review by Derek Armstrong

The Farrelly brothers' sophomore effort doesn't have the repeat watchability of their hilarious debut, Dumb and Dumber, but it returns enough of the winning elements -- including a road trip and a panoply of outlandish characters -- to follow up that strike with a solid spare. Using his same comb-over hairdo from that year's The People Vs. Larry Flynt, but swapping his wheelchair for a prosthetic hook, Woody Harrelson is at his most wide-eyed and gleeful, while Randy Quaid finally finds a narrative equal for the hick innocence that goes wasted in the Vacation movies. But the funniest turn is from Bill Murray as the amoral bowling champ, a slyly scene-stealing characterization if there ever was one. Kingpin was a key step in Murray's growing awareness that he is better suited to supporting roles in smartly subversive movies (Rushmore, Ed Wood) than lead roles in stupidly formulaic ones (The Man Who Knew Too Little). Although there is plenty of loopiness throughout this film, it reaches its ecstatic peaks during the bowling sequences, which highlight the sport's rabid cult following and turn trash talking into a sleazeball art form. Sandwiched between Dumb and Dumber and There's Something About Mary in its directors' careers, the less distinctive Kingpin can't help but suffer in stature by comparison. But some fans consider it the superior effort in the Farrellys' unique brand of dumb brilliance.