Lost Picture Show: Kingpin

daniel cohen looks at a lost farrelly brothers classic…

kingpinheader

kingpin

In honor of the release of Hyde Park on Hudson starring Bill Murray as FDR, we’re looking at one of his lost classics…

Release Date: 1996

First Saw It: Don’t quite remember, but pretty sure it was a rental when it came out on video.

What Drew Me To See It: I loved bowling as a kid, and when I saw a trailer where people were bowling, I thought that was pretty nifty. Plus, one of the taglines was ‘From the people who brung you Dumb & Dumber.’ I thought that was pretty funny.

Starring: Woody Harrelson, Randy Quaid, Vanessa Angel, and Bill Murray

Thank God They Weren’t Cast: We have a couple names here that I’m thrilled weren’t chosen. Michael Keaton was considered for Roy Munson, which of course eventually went to Woody Harrelson. I don’t see Keaton in that role at all, although nobody saw him as Batman either. The other almost casting was Jim Carrey for Ernie McCracken, who was actually the Farrelly Brothers’ first choice. I’m as big a Jim Carrey fan as there is, but that role only could have been played by Bill Murray.

Too Bad They Weren’t Cast: According to Chris Farley’s agent, he was in line to play Ishmael, the Randy Quaid role, but couldn’t do it due to Black Sheep. While Quaid did a fine job, it would have been interesting to see the Harrelson/Farley pairing.

Director: The Farrelly Brothers. And to me, this is their second best film next to Dumb & Dumber. Yeah, that’s right…I like it more than There’s Something About Mary, deal with it.

The Best Performance: When we talk about Bill Murray films, we think of a lot of things: Peter Venkman in Ghostbusters, or Carl Spackler in Caddyshack. And then you have the more serious fare like Herman Blume in Rushmore, or Bob Harris in Lost in Translation. People will think I’m a crazy person, but Kingpin might be his best work, or at least his funniest. He finds the core of comedic bliss in his body language and in every line he delivers. The character is an absolute jackass, but you can’t help but laugh. Just watching him in the final showdown alone as he stretches out his left arm, or the absolutely insane hair going on, Kingpin proves why Murray is one of the true greats of comedy.

The Supporting Scene-Stealer: I could never understand why Chris Elliot didn’t become a bigger star. In the nineties, Elliot was that guy who would pop up here and there, and in every instance you were guaranteed a laugh. He just has that type of comic delivery that can’t be taught. He’s in two scenes in this film, and one of them is a hallucination. Elliot’s character offers Roy and Ishmael $1 million to sleep together. That’s it. Elliot is basically given one quick monologue, and it’s absolutely masterful.

The Moment to Remember: The scene that gets me every time when I was a kid, and still does to this day is when Ishmael takes a dump in the urinal while reading the paper. What’s even stranger are the people in the urinals next to him who don’t even react to this. It doesn’t get any funnier than that.

The Memorable Quote:

Ishmael: You really should try to quit, Mr. Munson. They say it’s bad for your heart, your lungs. It quickens the aging process.
Roy: Is that right. Who’s done more research on the subject than the good people at the American Tobacco Industry? They say it’s harmless. Why would they lie? If you’re dead, you can’t smoke.

The Groan Moment: One of the long running jokes that I never thought made much sense was the constant use of the term ‘Munson.’ It basically refers to how Roy flushed his entire life down the toilet, but honestly, it’s just confusing at times and not even funny.

Why I Can’t Stop Watching It: As far as comedies go, this is a very good one. Woody Harrelson, Randy Quaid, and Vanessa Angel are all at the top of their game. But what takes it to that next level is Bill Murray’s performance. I have always wanted to see a sequel to this movie just as an excuse to see Bill Murray play this character again, even though we really don’t get much screen time with him. Kingpin still isn’t too well known, but whenever people refer to it, they usually talk about Murray’s performance. If you’re a Bill Murray fan, or a Farrelly Brothers fan back when they actually made good movies, and somehow missed this film, you need to go watch it right now.

Daniel Cohen is the hard-boiled Film Editor for the Pop Break. Besides reviews, Daniel writes box office predictions, Gotham reviews and Oscar coverage. He can also be found on the Breakcast. If Daniel was sprayed by Scarecrow’s fear toxin, it would be watching Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen on a non-stop loop.