The 5 Best Bowling Movies

Ten-pin bowling is perhaps the only sport which sees its players eating burgers and drinking beer between each turn. It’s also a sport that, while not difficult to play, is almost impossible to become a master at. Movies featuring this pop culture phenomenon, however, are rare. Most are lowbrow comedies like She’s Out of My league or King Ralph, documentaries with limited appeal, such as League of Ordinary Gentleman, or the likes of Sorority Babes in Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t some pretty great films out there that feature the sport we know and love. Here are our top five.

Lars and the Real Girl

Ryan Gosling, before becoming an A-list heartthrob, starred in this indie film about a man who has sexual relations with a doll. A real doll. While the film didn’t profit during its initial run at the cinema, its critical response and an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay has since seen the movie achieve cult status. In a key scene, Lars can be seen bowling with a group from his town, which only induces his social anxiety. The sport, through social interaction, not only highlights his fears but also a possible recovery.

The Deer Hunter

While The Deer Hunts is mostly known for its Russian roulette and Prisoner of War sequences, the movie employs bowling as a sample of the irresponsible behaviour, and comfortable, simple concerns that Robert De Niro’s character no longer deems as worthy. While it’s just one scene in a three-hour epic of a movie, it’s such moments of life that exists pre- and post-war trauma that make The Deer Hunter the powerful film that it is.

Bowling for Columbine

This one is a bit of a sneaky inclusion. Despite the name of the sport being in the title, the documentary on American’s passion for guns features just stock footage of bowling. The sport, however, plays a pivotal role in the main event as the shooters were thought to be bowling when they were killing their classmates, teachers, and one another. With recent bids to do something about gun violence thwarted by manufacturers, gun lobbyists, and the politicians controlled by them, it seems that this documentary may be based on a time when mass gun-based violence was shocking. They should have stuck to bowling.


If there’s one film on this list that’s truly about bowling, it’s this one. In fact, the entire plot is led by the lanes. The second film from the Farrelly brothers, it personifies the filmmakers’ tasteless, grossest humour. Woody Harrelson may take the lead but it’s Bill Murray that steals the show. But then, he does that in every movie he’s in. It’s a modern classic in the comedy genre and comedy gold for anyone who enjoys bowling.

The Big Lebowski

What can I say about this one that any bowling fan doesn’t already know? Jeff Bridges, Steve Buscemi. and John Goodman transform a bowling alley into a refuge, a place where a paedophile and a pacifist are mere bowlers. Despite the craziness in the head of Old Duder, the alley remains there like a faithful puppy.