Bowling may not be the most glamorous of activities. You roll the ball down the lane, roll it again, and then get to suck down a brew. Be that as it may, the sweet science of hitting pins with heavy balls has been the backdrop for more than a few movies. The "fantastic" athletes that perform this majestic sport and crete memorable sports highlights are pretty neat characters in their own right, and on top of that, bowling is pretty fun even if you're bad at it. These six bowling films will have your rolling in the lanes with laughter!
"The Big Lebowski" (1998)
Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski (Jeff Bridges) is an unmotivated guy living in Los Angeles. Some outlaws mistake The Dude for a millionaire also named Jeff Lebowski, and they crack his bathroom floor with a bowling ball, shove his head in a toilet and urinate on his rug. It so happens that the rug really tied the room together, and thus begins an odyssey that leads the Dude to encounter all kinds of unchecked aggression. This movie's cult following knows no limits, and it has more than a little to do with the Dude's interactions with Walter and Donny at the bowling lanes.
Roy Munson (Woody Harrelson) is a bowler with a gift. He has been trained in the sport since early childhood and he is on track to become one of the top professionals on the tour. However, when a misunderstanding with rival Ernie McCracken (Bill Murray) leads to the loss of his bowling hand, Roy is forced to don a prosthetic and pick another line of employment, that of a pathetic drunk. Fortunately for Roy, he spots a promising young Amish bowler, and cons him into bowling for him. The laughs come fast and furious in this Farrelly Brothers comedy, courtesy of a bravura performance from Bill Murray. But then, when is Murray ever bad? Okay, except for "Garfield."
"She's Out of My League" (2010)
Kirk (Jay Baruchel) is an earnest TSA agent who is painfully skinny and a very ordinary looking man. Despite his appearance, he has made the acquaintance of party planner Molly (Alice Eve), who is stunningly beautiful, smart, and incredibly friendly. Shockingly, Molly asks Kirk out on a date and he is contemplating the possibility of Molly actually liking him while bowling with buddies Stainer, Jack and Devon. Stainer tries to explain that there is no way a girl like Molly could fall for Kirk because "she's a hard 10" and Kirk is no better than a 5.5 (or a 6) and that's "too big a chasm to jump." As Kirk contemplates Stainer's assessment, a "serious" league bowler in the next lane gets angry with him for not waiting his turn and refers to Kirk as "house ball." Stainer, much bigger and stronger than Kirk, stands up for his buddy and rolls his ball in the complaining bowler's lane and nearly starts a major brawl. The jokes never stop as Kirk moves on from the bowling alley and pursues his not-to-be believed relationship with Molly.
Uncle Joe (Kirk Douglas) is a millionaire who is sick and is nearing the end of his days. His family recognizes this and they are trying to get in his good graces so they can get a piece of the pie. Daniel (Michael J. Fox) is a bowler whose career is failing but is the only one in the family who is not trying to worm his way into Uncle Joe's wallet. Uncle Joe is no dope and he understands his family's motivation and he enjoys making his greedy family members look like idiots. However, his abilities to ferret out money grubbers is compromised when Nurse Molly (Olivia d'Abo) appears on the scene. It's somewhat predictable but is still filled with a lot of belly laughs. Credit writers Babaloo Mandell and Lowell Ganz for writing a howl-filled script.
"King Ralph" (1991)
The British royal family gets wiped out in a tragic electrical accident. When a sophisticated search is done, it is determined that Ralph Jones (John Goodman) is the closest surviving relative. Ralph is a Las Vegas lounge lizard who was conceived in a relationship between the King and his maid. Ralph moves into the royal palace and makes sure he has a bowling alley constructed for his enjoyment. If you ever want to make a movie about an over-the-top slob who can play the rube or the greasy con man, Goodman is your man. He's a boob with a bowling ball who is extremely accomplished when playing characters who screw up. This movie will give you the kind of slapstick and physical comedy you're not likely to find elsewhere.
"The Flintstones" (1994)
1960s, and Fred Flintstone (John Goodman — sense a pattern in bowling movies?) is an earnest employee of Slate and Company where he mines rock. Fred is contemplating his life and career while bowling with buddy Barney Rubble (Rick Moranis) and he realizes that he should get a promotion. When the promotion comes through, Fred ends up forgetting his good friend Barney and being manipulated by an unscrupulous Slate executive. The choice of Goodman is a good one, because his characters never seem to understand the consequences of his actions. Goodman's portrayal of the boobish caveman is a natural and it comes with a lot of laughs.