STUDIO: Magnolia
MSRP: $26.98
• Deleted Scenes
• Skills Challenge Highlights
• Dexter Approach: Tips and Techniques
• PBA Event Clips
• PBA TV Spots
• Theatrical Trailer

Disclosure: My boss co-owns this film’s distributor and appears in an early sequence. See if you can pick him out.

The Pitch

This ain’t baseball. Call it “The Shot”, and pick up the spare.

The Humans

Chris Barnes, Steve Miller, Wayne Webb, Pete Weber, Walter Ray Williams Jr

The answer to the age-old question. "Where all the white women at?"

The Nutshell

Bowling occupies a curious cultural position. Is it cool, or square? Is it cool because it’s square? Is it merely a backdrop for smug, ironic cult movies? Or has it just been around so long (7000 years and counting) that it’ll never really go away?

In 1997, televised professional bowling went off the air after a 35-year run on ABC’s Wide World of Sports. Call it a sign of the times, a shift in popular tastes, or simple apathy, but the second-best thing in the world to do while drinking was fading away. Enter Steve Miller, a man who, in 2000, possessed the perfect combination of jock attitude and Microsoft millions to put the Professional Bowlers Association back on the map. A League of Ordinary Gentlemen (unfortunate title) follows the first pro tour of the rejuvenated League.

Recycling Day at Fort Knox

The Lowdown

The film starts slow with some historical background—probably more than necessary since the recap of the final WWoS broadcast sets up all the interpersonal drama we need. We then get an electrifying motivational speech from Miller to the League, but the film doesn’t really get in gear until the tour starts.

Now we meet the key players: modest, methodical Williams; manic “bad boy” Weber (If this man didn’t exist, Christopher Guest would have to invent him); sad-sack Webb; rising star Barnes. All the ingredients for sports drama are right here and ready to go: you really start to feel for these guys, some of who have never made a living doing anything besides throwing a ball. The championship match is amazingly suspenseful.

iBowl. In stores this fall.

The Package

Your otherwise-trusty scribe couldn’t be trusted with a full version of this DVD for review, and was issued a movie-only screening disc instead. Therefore, I can’t speak to the quality of the supplements. Sounds like there’s some nice ones though.

Video quality is very good, as befits Magnolia’s association with HDNet. I was particularly impressed with how good the vintage TV clips looked, even blown up and cropped for 16:9 presentation.

The box art (what I can see of it on Amazon) could use some work. The movie’s all about bringing the sport into the 21st century, but all we get on the cover is retro-style lounge imagery.

8 out of 10