Sunday, June 15, 2014

Kingpin (1996) Review:

Directors Bobby and Peter Farrelly don't have much of a filmography but after they produced Dumb & Dumber (1994), they were pretty much set. Since this week was the recent release of the Farrelly brothers' long awaited sequel to Dumb & Dumber (1994), Dumb & Dumber To (2014), it seemed appropriate that we visit another early Farrelly brothers' work. I was amazed to see that this is the only time Woody Harrelson collaborated with these directors. After being in and proving in other films that he still can be a comedic actor, I thought he would've made another movie with them. Guess Harrelson has had other plans since.

Because that rubber hand is so convincing
Here, Woody Harrelson plays Roy Munson, a bowling prodigy who worked hard at being the best. That is, until one day after making a dangerous gamble, he loses his best bowling hand. Feeling ashamed and embarrassed, he leaves home to live a secluded life from society with poor living conditions and unkempt neighbors. Struggling to maintain any kind of order in his life, especially after losing his hand, he stumbles upon an Amish man named Ishmael (Randy Quaid) who reminds him of his youth and realizes that he has some unrecognized bowling skills and decides to take him under his wing. Along their travels, the two also stumble into a abusive rich man's wife that decides it's time for her to get out. The actress playing this vixen is Vanessa Angel. This is also probably her most memorable role in her filmography to most people who recognize her.

The three actors do have their moments that are funny but it’s not often. Harrelson carries most of the weight because of how his character tries to be better than his current social status. Quaid's character isn't all that funny but does work occasionally too. Of course, Angel's character is one that probably won’t be ignored since much of the physical humor is centered around her bosom. Thankfully, not all the physical comedy relies on Angel. Harrelson's character uses a rubber hand in replace of his metal hooks and watching him fiddle getting ready or doing other things people normally do with their hands brought up some laughs. However there are some gags that are more gross than comical. I'm sure that's apart of the Farrelly humor, but if you're a viewer who doesn't like that kind of humor, it won't be that funny.

Bill Murray even has a fairly major role in the story too, playing a bowler named Ernie McCracken. Man does Murray's hair get wild. In fact, his personality altogether is a bit too wild. Murray is more of an actor who can play a funny role in a deadpan fashion, not over-the-top. Most likely Murray fans will have a fun time but he does get to be too much at times. The two gentlemen behind the screenplay have more TV series writing under their belts than acclaimed comedy blockbusters, which could explain why several gags amount to very little. Also the characters for what they are, aren't the most likable. Yes, they're weird in their own way and have their moments, but they don't come off as characters that viewers would remember easily.

Did I not say wild?
Shockingly, a number of the less important characters are extremely blind or stupid. The character of Ernie McCracken is vulgar along with his strong hubris. McCracken gropes women in public and yet no one sees this? How is it that the women being groped is ok with this? It's not like McCracken is Elvis or something. One character even called the man "a role model for future generations". Are you kidding? Of course it's supposed to make the McCracken character seem unstoppable but how do these people not see this on public television? It may baffle viewers. Editing and cinematography is ok but nothing special. One time composer Freedy Johnston's score was barely noticeable. Much of the time, the music was provided by music parodying or directly paralleling the situation being displayed. It was alright at points, while others not so much.

The comedy is frequently hit or miss, with its forgettable characters and repetitive gags. Woody Harrelson is the key to what helps makes watchable though.

Points Earned --> 6:10

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