Synopsis: A washed up ex-bowler, who lost his hand many years before, finds hope in a prodigal Amish bowler.
• Woody Harrelson, Randy Quaid, and especially Bill Murray push so much humor out of their imperfect characters that it made up for any of the film’s flaws.
• Almost implausibly heartwarming story of redemption for the protagonists, while the antagonists seem to get their due.
• The plot’s resolution is unusual and unique, with the protagonists finding victory in defeat at their own times.
• The gross-out comedy, though effective for those receptive, almost took away from the plot at times.
• The plot was a bit stretched thin.
• One must wonder how McCracken got away with his dirty antics and horrid self, as one must wonder what if any bowling rules exists surrounding prosthetic hands.
As suggested in The Big Lebowski (1998), there may indeed be a metaphor for life in the game of bowling. We can try with great might at the throw, but never quite know what will happen once we find ourselves at the other end. In between can be a rush of momentum slowly spiraling out of control toward an uncertain cataclysm. That was much of the plot of Kingpin. Munson’s first role led to great victory, his second was near total destruction of self, and the third was failure first roll yet victory on metaphorically the second try. The film simply did not end on a black or white note, and that was its real strength. It is OK to loose sometimes as long as we find meaning in it all and a way forward in spite of failure.
Rotten Tomatoes — 50%