Tuesday, February 15, 2011

League Of Ordinary Gentlemen: Terrible Movies #56

It would be easy to mock bowling. It was seen as uncool, and in all fairness this film was made prior to the resurgence of companies like Lucky Strike who are successfully making bowling seem cool again.

Why am I calling this film terrible? It's not due to lack of skill on the part of the film-makers. It looks and acts like most documentaries. Real-life people are interviewed, and we see them doing the things that the film-makers think we will find interesting, and the film-makers attempt to illuminate us and make us feel connected to these people. Usually through subtle (or, in this case, not-so-subtle) imagery; for instance, shots of factories, or clothing emblazoned with flags, are meant to make you feel a particular way. Interviews are conducted, in this case America, Family, or History is mentioned again and again, and experts are brought in to back up and forward some sort or agenda. This documentary film doesn't vary from the standard.

An expert is interviewed who states that intellectual elitism based in Hollywood is responsible for the downfall of bowling, which was once the most watched televised sporting event, and sometime later the owner of the PBA is shown screaming (or speaking motivationally, take your pick) at a crowd of bowling enthusiasts, and saying that the segmentation of the television viewing audience as the downfall of bowling, that bowling was 'boring America to death', and this is a huge obstacle to overcome. And they show clips from the Farrelly Brothers film Kingpin to further their agenda, that this film has skewered and destroyed the image of bowling, and then sometime later show historical clips of mustachioed and mulleted bowlers in action that look suspiciously like the film that lampoons them.

But I feel the expert and the film-makers misses a point, that what is popular is rarely and not necessarily cool. So I would say what makes this film a failure is a lack of unifying message and a cast of unlikeable personalities, but it's still an interesting insider's look at a struggling sport. On Netflix Instant Streaming.

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