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Kingpin (1996 film)

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Bobby Farrelly
Peter Farrelly
Produced by Brad Krevoy
Steve Stabler
Bradley Thomas
Written by Barry Fanaro
Mort Nathan
Starring Woody Harrelson
Randy Quaid
Vanessa Angel
Bill Murray
Music by Freedy Johnston
Cinematography Mark Irwin
Edited by Christopher Greenbury
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release dates
  • July 4, 1996 (1996-07-04)
Running time
113 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $27 million
Box office $25,023,434

Kingpin is a 1996 American sport comedy film directed by the Farrelly brothers and starring Woody Harrelson, Randy Quaid, Vanessa Angel, and Bill Murray. It was filmed in and around Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania[2] (as a stand-in for Scranton), Amish country, and Reno, Nevada.


  • Plot 1
  • Cast 2
  • Reception 3
  • Home media 4
  • Promotion 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


Roy Munson, a bowling prodigy, wins the 1979 Iowa state amateur championship and plans to leave his tiny (fictional) hometown of Ocelot, Iowa, to go on the Professional Bowlers Tour. He wins his first tournament, defeating an established pro named Ernie McCracken. Soon after, McCracken convinces Roy to help him hustle some bowlers. The con goes badly with McCracken fleeing and letting Roy take the fall when the bowlers mutilate Roy's hand in revenge.

In present day, a down-and-out Roy sports a

During the road trip, Roy introduces Ishmael to worldly vices. The pair wind up at a mansion owned by a hoodlum named Stanley, whom they plan to hustle. When Stanley discovers their ploy, he threatens them with violence, but his girlfriend Claudia, tired of Stanley's abuse, helps the pair escape and they all continue on the road to Reno. When Claudia disapproves of Roy's exploitation of Ishmael, Roy tries to abandon her but she thwarts his plan and they begin to fight, at which point Ishmael abandons them both. As they search for him, they make a stop in Ocelot, and Claudia's attitude towards Roy softens when she learns that he was too ashamed of his failure to return home even for his father's funeral. They finally reunite with Ishmael and make their way to Reno. At a Reno hotel, Roy runs into McCracken, who is now a bowling celebrity entered in the $1,000,000 tournament. McCracken insults Roy, and infuriates Ishmael to the point where he takes a swing at him. McCracken ducks and Ishmael hits a wall and breaks his hand, leaving him unable to bowl. To make matters worse, Stanley tracks Claudia to Reno, steals the trio's bankroll, and forces Claudia to leave with him. Hurt and confused by Claudia's apparent betrayal, Ishmael tries to convince Roy that they still have a chance to win the $1,000,000 – if Roy will bowl.

Roy finally agrees and enters the tournament, rolling the ball with his prosthetic rubber hand. Despite all odds, Roy has a Cinderella run through the tournament, defeating both pro bowlers Mark Roth and Randy Pedersen on his way to face McCracken in the final. The two competitors are closely matched heading into the final frame, until Ishmael's brother arrives and orders Ishmael to return home with him immediately. Distracted by his friend's sudden absence, Roy rolls the most difficult of splits (7-10 split) but is miraculously able to convert it, thereby forcing McCracken to roll three strikes to beat him. McCracken ultimately does so, and wins the tournament. Roy sits silently in his chair as McCracken celebrates in an extremely obnoxious fashion, and remains there as the cleaning crew sweep the seats around him. Absorbing all that has happened, with his friends ditching him and frustrated at how close he came to defeating his rival, Roy lets out a loud yell, startling the cleaning crews. The next day, Stanley violently approaches Roy, accusing him of stealing his gambling winnings. Roy tells him that he does not have the money, but reluctantly blames McCracken for his hand mishap. Ultimately, the blame switches to McCracken, with Stanley seeking to find and kill him for stealing his bankroll.

Roy returns to his seedy apartment where he is surprised by an unexpected visitor at his door. Claudia has returned with the bankroll she had taken from Stanley, now doubled since Stanley bet against Roy in the final. She proposes the cash be split three-ways between Roy, Ishmael, and herself, but instead Roy produces a $500,000 check he has received from

External links

  1. ^ (12)"KINGPIN".  
  2. ^ "City lands good share of movies". The Vindicator. December 10, 1995. Archived at Google News. Retrieved November 21, 2012.
  3. ^ "Kingpin (1996)".  
  4. ^  
  5. ^


Lin Shaye attended a 1996 live airing of a Professional Bowlers Tour event in Wichita, Kansas, to both promote the film and present the winner (Jess Stayrook) with the winner's trophy and prize money. Stayrook defeated Butch Soper, who had won the first three matches.


When released on DVD, Kingpin came in its original PG-13 theatrical version (113 minutes) and an extended, R-rated version (117 minutes).

Home media

The film is ranked #68 on Bravo's "100 Funniest Movies".[5]

Roger Ebert had one of the more noteworthy positive reviews, giving it 3.5 out of 4 stars.[4] Gene Siskel enthusiastically endorsed the film, putting it on his list of the ten best films for 1996.

The film has received mixed reviews from critics; Rotten Tomatoes currently gives the film a score of 51% based on 36 reviews, with an average rating of 5.8 out of 10. The consensus states: "Kingpin has its moments, but they're often offset by an eagerness to descend into vulgar mean-spiritedness."[3]


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