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Roy Munson was raised to be the best bowler in the world (trained early on by his father). But a fellow bowler, Ernie McCracken and a misunderstanding with some rough punks, leaves poor Roy with the loss of his bowling hand! Not to let this get him down, he gets a prosthetic hand and becomes a travelling sales man. But it's really all down hill for him from that night on until ... One day he meets Ishmael who is Amish and sneaks away from the farm to bowl (his fellow Amish would disown him if they knew)! Roy convinces Ishmael to let him be his trainer and he'll make him the best bowler the world has ever seen. Reluctantly Ishmael agrees to go on the road and shortly afterwards actually finds that life outside the farm is quite fun. Soon their paths cross that of Ernie McCracken who is still a top ranking bowler. While Roy's career and life have landed in the toilet bowl, Ernie is still drawing huge crowds and all the babes! They both square off for the ultimate bowling championship ..... Written by
Jane Byron Dean <McGinty@aol.com>
I say this in a good way: this film captures bowling's underbelly, where even the pro stars sometimes have to supplement their income the old-fashioned way: by taking it directly from obviously weaker bowlers who somehow manage to be convinced to risk their money. Just as poker games are often won with guns, bowling for money has hazards all its own, something I learned even as a junior bowler hustling games after the league on Saturday.
Roy E. Munson (Woody Harrelson) is such a loser that acting like a total loser is actually called "being Munsoned." The term is named after an incident where some victims of a bowling hustle relieve Roy of his right hand in a gruesome manner which involves bowling equipment. Somehow, even THAT manages to be funny, which speaks to the quality of this film, a film smart enough to have its three main stars on screen for most of the time. The 1979 accident was the result of Roy taking the fall for the hustle engineered by legendary bowler Ernie McCracken (Bill Murray).
Fast forward to 1996, and Roy stumbles across an Amish bowler named Ishmael Boorg (Randy Quaid), the most talented bowler he's ever come across. He offers to coach Ishmael for a $1 million tournament in Reno, Nevada that can save his family farm, but Ishmael is conflicted (the deepest emotion of the film) because he has strayed from the Amish country. Ishmael's brother is the requisite family member sent to bring the stray relative back home, and Vanessa Angel is extra-hot as the love interest for almost every guy in the film.
If you think this is a parody of bowling, the joke may be on you. Hang around enough lanes, in certain places, and you just might see these guys or something very close to them. Just be careful if they look drunk and want to play for money.
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