Kingpin is a 1996 Farrelly brothers film starring Woody Harrelson, Randy Quaid, Vanessa Angel, and Bill Murray. It was filmed in and around Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania as a stand-in for Scranton, Amish country and even Reno, Nevada. As with typical Farrelly brothers movies, such as Dumb & Dumber, most of the film's humor is gross out and slapstick.
Kingpin begins with Woody Harrelson as Roy Munson, a child bowling prodigy who won the 1979 Iowa state amateur championship. Young Roy is all set to leave his tiny hometown of Ocelot, Iowa to go on the professional bowling tour. He wins his first tournament, defeating a none-too-pleased Ernie McCracken (Bill Murray) in the finals. Roy receives an oversized check and the emnity of McCracken.
The unhappy McCracken decides to get back at the young bowler, first by putting sugar in his gas tank, then convincing him to join him in a bowling-alley hustle. Munson needs money to repair his car engine, so he agrees. The scheme goes horribly awry. Roy is abandoned by the opportunistic McCracken and their "marks" shove Roy's right hand into a ball-return, amputating it.
In the present, a down-and-out Munson, sporting a hook which he covers with a fake rubber hand, sells bowling alley supplies with little success. He lives in a seedy apartment building in Scranton, Pennsylvania along with several winos and a landlady who is constantly after Roy because he never pays his rent on time.
On a sales call, Munson catches sight of Ishmael Boorg (Randy Quaid) rolling a respectable game. Munson tries to get him to turn pro, since he has a "265 or 270" average. The Amish man has little interest in worldly affairs, though -- he isn't even supposed to be bowling, as it is against Amish tradition.
Munson's troubles increase after he tries to scam his elderly landlady into a rent extension. In the end he has to pay in kind -- with sex. While puking in a toilet after prostituting himself, Roy sees a headline on a bowling magazine that alerts him to a $1,000,000 purse in a tournament in Reno, Nevada. Once again, he tries to convince Ishmael to become a pro -- this time by posing as an Amish from Ohio named "Hezekiah" Munson and visiting the Boorg family home. Ishmael again refuses, but soon receives news from his father that the family will lose their land unless $500,000 can be raised soon. The faithful Amish man reluctantly agrees to go along, only to earn enough to save his people.
It is soon apparent that Ismael isn't as awesome as his "270" average would indicate. He explains that he normally rolls a 15-frame game, since Amish do everything half-again as much as everyone else. Roy decides to take Ishmael home, because he no longer believes he can win the $1,000,000. Ishmael convinces Roy to take him to Reno, saying he didn't want to be "Munsoned" out in the middle of nowhere (meaning up the creek without a paddle, much like Roy).
After a little cajoling, Roy convinces Ishmael to bowl for money. Both end up at gangster Stanley's house in the middle of the night. Stanley resorts to using his girlfriend Claudia (Vanessa Angel) as a teasing distraction. It does not work, as Ishmael is incorruptible. After Ishamel wins, Stanley sees Roy handling a roll of fake money. Stanley realizes that the two were betting with money they did not have. Luckily, they are able to escape (the luscious Claudia leading the way), and continue their journey towards Reno, with Ishmael's bowling skills and Claudia's ability to distract male bowlers gaining them a significant cash "stash."
Roy's and Claudia's relationship is testy. It comes to a head one night when Roy tries to escape with Ishmael. After seeing what they have planned, Claudia beats up Roy, causing Ishmael to run away.
On their way to find him, Roy and Claudia stop off in Ocelot, where Roy hasn't been since he left for the pro tour. The town has changed quite a bit since Roy left, and not for the better- most of the people have moved away, all the businesses appear to have been abandoned, and the town is desolate. Roy reminisces sadly while Claudia tries to convince him that his dad, who died 10 years prior (and whose funeral Roy missed), would be proud of him for what he's doing with Ishmael. After Roy insists that he wouldn't, they head back to find Ishmael, who is dancing in drag in a strip club.
After a few more stops, Roy, Ishmael, and Claudia finally reach Reno with $43,000 in their cash stash. While dining at a buffet restaurant, Roy runs into McCracken, who by this time has become a bowling celebrity. McCracken insults Roy, reminds Claudia of an old affair, and infuriates Ishmael to the point where the Amish man takes a swing at him, only for Big Ern to duck. Ishmael punches a wall and break his hand, rendering him unable to bowl.
To make matters worse, Stanley, who has tracked Claudia to Reno, takes her with him. Claudia also takes all of their ill-gotten gains, leaving the two men again broke and confused.
Ishmael decides that they still have a chance to win the $1,000,000 -- if Roy bowls instead of him. After Roy fails to convince Ishmael that his idea is stupid, he decides reluctantly to enter -- only to find his PBA dues are 17 years in arrears and that he can't come up with the $38 he needs to pay them. Fortunately he is able to use his 1979 Iowa State Championship bowling ring as collateral to enter the tournament.
Throughout the tournament, Big Ern rolls through everyone, as expected. He makes the finals...where he meets up with Roy, who has had a Cinderella run through the tournament, bowling with the prosthetic rubber hand and knocking off pro bowlers like Mark Roth and Randy Pedersen. The two bowlers are evenly matched and head into the final frame with Roy ahead by 9 pin margin.
Ishmael is found by his brother Thomas, who has traveled the country on a horse and buggy to find him. A distracted Roy rolls a 7-10 split. He is able to miraculously convert and then roll a strike on his next ball, forcing Big Ern to roll 3 strikes in his final frame...which he does, earning him the $1,000,000 prize and leaving Roy with nothing but a rubber hand.
After a final run-in with Stanley and his goons (Claudia claimed to have run off with Big Ern, prompting Stanley to decide to go after Ern), Roy returns home to find a surprise visitor at his door...Claudia, who arrives with the money she stole(doubled, since Stanley bet on McCracken in the tournament). Though she tries to convince Roy to split it with her and Ishmael, Roy shows her an endorsement check from Trojan condoms for $500,000 (thanks to his fake hand, which earned him the nickname "Rubber Man") and says that the money is going to be split one way.
He promptly gives the check to the Amish community and explains what had happened. Ishmael, who has just returned to the community, walks in and finds his friends. His father tells him what a hero he is to the community for what he has done. (Roy lied and described Ishmael's influence as nothing but positive.) In the end, the community is saved, Roy and Claudia hook up, and the movie ends with an Amish celebration.
This film is number 67 on Bravo's "100 Funniest Movies".