Bowling is not the most glamorous of sports.
There, I said it. Shoot me down if you like. But it’s the unfortunate truth that, in Britain, when most people think of Bowling; they think of bad food, outdated graphics and that oddly pleasant smell of shoe freshener.
It’s hard not blame these people.
If you’re not an enthusiast of the sport, then Ten Pin Bowling will most likely be relegated to the realms of rainy day activities and children’s birthday parties.
Us committed players don’t make it any cooler either. Instead of taking our cues from our compatriots across the pond, we eschew the fancy silk embroidered shirts for the cheapest of cotton polo shirts and no-frills shoes.
In these 3 movies, film makers took the idea of Bowling and did something brave – they made it cool. In some instances, their ideas may be a little violent or fantastical, but us beggars really can’t be choosers.
If you’re trying to convince some friends to give Ten Pin Bowling a go, then these films should change even the hardiest of minds:
The Big Lebowski
The ultimate representation of American-Style Ten Pin Bowling, The Dude’s team might not have a name, but what they lack in this area they more than make up in style and attitude. As far as team members go, the characters in this movie might be a little edgy. John Goodman’s turn as Walter, a hard-right leaning Vietnam War veteran, causes the dismissal of the team after he threatens a man with a pistol…on the lanes.
It’s not the quirky characters and bizarre rituals that make this film one for the newbies to the sport. Although the movie is a small-time crime caper, in the tradition of Film Noir, Bowling is at the heart of all of its major scenes – providing us with many of the most iconic shots of bowling in the history of cinema. Just watching a clip of this cult classic will make you itch to huck a ball down.
A League Of Ordinary Gentleman
This 2006 documentary was praised as being the movie to bring Ten Pin Bowling back into the international spotlight. Film maker Christopher Browne gets up close and personal with some of the biggest names in Bowling at the times of its release. Including many familiar faces from the American leagues, the film gives us an insight into the mental state required to maintain success in what is one of the toughest competitions in sport.
Although the film basks in the glow of record holder Walter Ray Williams, Jr. a little too much, Browne also finds time to focus in on the little guys who are in Bowling because it’s all they know. What makes a sport more attractive than accessibility? Add to this, the idea that you could luck out and end up playing with the pros one day, and you’ve probably already gained a new bowling partner.
This is not a great film. It may feature Bill Murray and Woody Harrelson but this movie from the Farrelly Brothers (Dumb & Dumber, There’s Something About Mary) is not one of their greatest. It does, however, feature some of the best visual gags (set in a bowling alley) that you can find in cinema. A dubious honour, I know, but the combination of Murray and Harrelson’s full wack-job performances make for a few great moments.
They sure don’t make films like this anymore – probably for a good reason. If you’ve not seen a Farrelly Brothers movie before then you’ll know to expect a few tasteless sight gags – there’s a couple of (non-bowling related) jokes that really stretch the meaning of the word ‘gag’ in a way that you’ll probably not enjoy. Regardless, this movie glamorizes Bowling as a sport that offers $1,000,000 prizes for idiots – what’s not to like?
It really is beautiful, here are some more of our favourites:
1.Lonely Bowling Ball
2. Ramps Are Waiting And Want To Be Used
Pretty amazing stuff.
I had a dream once. In the dream I woke up in my bed like on any other day, I stepped out of bed and wondered down stairs to the living room. But when I entered my living room, it was not the room I knew. That is right. In my dreams, things are not as they are normally are in normal waking life. They are all a little bit, I don’t know, different. That’s what happens in dreams really, they are different and they are not the same, they are unlike normal things, so to say, they are not as things are when things are not dreams. And dreams, we believe, mean something or refer to something or create something or are something more than the things they might seem to be if we do not look at them in such a way as to draw out some meaning from what might t first seem meaningless. I am not, of course, advocating some structural interpretative framework of symbolic meaning to understand dreams. I believe that is impossible, we cannot know that a certain thing, say a field of grain, means the same thing in my dream as it means in yours. But we can say that dreams are your brain working through something and that they are hence reflective and revealing of your deeper mental state.
In my dream, I arrived in my living room to find that there was no television, there was no stereo, there was no none of the stuff that’s normally there. There was just one long, well regulation size, bowling alley. It stretched out in front of me with pins in the distance that glittered in the morning sun that was sneaking through the curtains. And I bowled, I picked up the only ball and it was perfect, perfect weight for me, perfect size on the holes, perfect. I swung it back and made my approach, and I bowled without thinking, I simply let it fly from me. Strike. I turned at there was another ball, I picked it up, perfect again, I turned and the pins had already returned, I swung, not thinking, strike. Strike, strike, strike, strike. They just kept coming, strike after strike. And I didn’t once reflect on them, didn’t once think about how amazing they were. I just kept bowling, and kept bowling strikes. I rolled the perfect the game.
I’ve never done that in real life. But I want to, I want to get to that level. I want to live my dreams. And I think that the dream was a message, a message about how that can be done: I need a bowling alley in my living room. But I’m not a millionaire, I’m not a Richy Rich, I’m not an oilman.
But I will have my bowling alley. First things first: the floor. I need to have a floor that will bowl well. Now, the assumption would be that I’d have to get an expensive professional wood floor, but due to monetery restraints I have to think outside the box. So, I’ve settled on some tile effect laminate flooring. I know what your thinking ‘WHAT!? Tile effect laminate flooring??? What’s going on in your brain box you complete mentalist mad man lunatic????!!!!!!’. Well, I get it, but from going and looking at a whole host of different floors of all weird and wonderful types. I took my ball to the showroom! And you know on what floor it rolled straightest? That’s right, on tile effect laminate flooring. Sounds crazy, but its true.
So we’re getting there. The floor is the first step. Next steep… well, everything else!
Style means a lot in bowling, it is all about how you carry yourself, how you move, how you approach the lane, how you let your hands slip over the hot air, how you reach down and let your fingers drift over the ball for a moment, before gathering it up into your arms. Do you pick it up with one hand and let it hang there! Do you lean back and look up at the ceiling and breath the air in, try and leave the moment? Is that even necessary for you? Maybe you don’t want to forget the moment at all. Maybe you feed off the moment, maybe you need the moment. You hold up the ball to your chin and take a moment, stair down the lane, or is it an isle? No, it is a lane. Do you have a poise pose? Or a swagger? Then the most important part: the approach and the bowl. One hand? Two hands? Big swing back? Little Swing back? Does it hit the road straight or are you a thrower? It is all style. The best have the best style. Case in point? Belmo:
Just look at that last bowl, counting or not that is some crazy style. But what bowling really needs? A glamour couple.
Now that is what I’m talking about! I’m talking leather cat suits! I’m talking questionable hairstyles! I’m talking a fur pom pom scarf! Style! Fashion! Glamour! That’s what we need now, more than anything else. I mean, bowling is inherently glamours, right? It’s got cool balls and well polished lanes. It’s got tension and cheering. It’s got celebrations, it’s got fashion, fashion, fashion! And style, style, style!
It’s our fault if we’re not showing that in how we play and present the sport. We need more Belmo’s, more characters, more coolness. More style and fashion. We need to get on tv, we need to get in front of people, we need to get people involved!
We need to show our style.
Bowling is a fascinating sport, one based on constant repetition and zero change in circumstances and goal. It is the same challenge over and over again: can you role a strike? You are never asked to do anything else. You are never told that the ball is going to be a different size or role in a different direction or that the pins are going to move or be moving or be different sizes or different shapes. It the same, every time. Just you, the ball, the lane and the pins. Again and again and again and again. The only thing that can change is you: Are you focused? Are you there? Are you perfect? After hours of bowling? With the mind games? After watching your seemingly unflinching, indestructible, unbeatable, inhuman competitor roll strike after strike. Can you get up and sink another one like it was nothing? Can you stand up after all the pressure, with all the competition, and roll like you’re back at your home alley? Like it was nothing?
It’s not easy, because the beauty of bowling is that your only opponent is yourself really, and how much you allow the other person to effect you. If they can get into your mind, if they can undermine your confidence, if they can destroy you from the inside, if they can crumble the foundations, if they can undermine your faith, then they can beat you. Then you can lose. So the question is: Are you going to be waiting to lose? Or are you going to be ready to win?
Belmo knows no fear. Belmo thrives on the pressure. Belmo is unflinching. Belmo is indestructible. Belmo is unbeatable. But Belmo, and this is why we love him, is oh so human.
He’s a machine up to the point of the last pin falling, then that smile breaks out, and we see the human underneath. That’s the truth, the beautiful truth, of a person dedicated to something who hasn’t lost his humanity in the pursuit of perfection. And such perfection. He is a person who has conquered themselves and so cannot be beat. That’s why I bowl, to try and conquer myself, to control myself, to win.
Why do you bowl?