Hobbies, sports, and various activities are interesting topics to be covered and discussed in movies and are often very beloved themes among viewers. Bowling is often featured in numerous movies, as a pass time and an activity that many protagonists enjoy. Some filmmakers have made movies that revolve solely around bowling and there are altogether many excellent stories connected to bowling in this list, we are bringing you the top 15 bowling movies of all time.
The Big Lebowski (1998)
What it’s about: In this Brothers Coen masterpiece we are introduced to Jeff “The Dude” Lebowski, one of the most famous slackers ever seen in movie history. Being mistaken for a millionaire of the same name, he asks help from his bowling friends to find the millionaire’s missing wife which he accepted after he was accused of stealing money he has never stolen.
Why you should watch it: This is one of those movies you will enjoy watching more than once, if you happen to adore it. And it has all the conditions to be adored, from a completely crazy plot to even more absurd and unforgettable characters, brilliantly played by Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, and John Turturro, among many others. It is a crime comedy you will talk about for a long time after you’ve seen it. And it has bowling 🙂
What it’s about: Another unforgettable comedy about bowling is this hilarious story directed by the masters of slapstick comedy, The Farrelly Brothers. When Ray Munson, one of the world’s best bowlers loses his bowling hand, he becomes a traveling salesman with a prosthetic hand, a job he hates doing. But when he meets Ishmael, an Amish who loves bowling and has to hide it from his community, Roy convinces him to be his trainer, making him the best bowler in the world. This is when their adventure starts and takes them into countless funny situations.
Why you should watch: This is definitely a bowling movie, full of memorable dialogues and situations you feel remember forever. Woody Harrelson, Randy Quaid, and Bill Murray and perfect for their roles, the chemistry between them is impeccable and together with a great story, they make this movie worth seeing,
A League of Ordinary Gentlemen (2004)
What it’s about: This hour-and-a-half-long sports documentary brings us the most important years for bowling, from the 1950s and 1960s to the sport’s near extinction in 1997. It focuses on four professional bowlers whose private lives greatly depended on their professional success. It also introduces us to the new CEO Steve Miller who decided to modernize the PBA.
Why you should watch it: If you are a big bowling fan or even considering a professional career in bowling, this movie is a must-see. It is educational, informative, and very interesting since it doesn’t center only on bowling itself, but also on the players and their psychology connected to this sport.
What it’s about: This is a sports drama about an aspiring bowler who is trying to win a tournament against a well-known veteran bowler. This is a beloved bowling movie, every true bowling fan should consider watching.
Why you should watch it: This is one of the classics among bowling movies, which received split reviews but it is still worth watching. The ones who know more about bowling will appreciate it better and it is a very good choice to be introduced to this sport. It is a great way to see what it looked like in the 1970 and to compare it to today’s rules and way of playing.
What it’s about: This is a sports comedy-drama about the handsome, but always in trouble Cliff Starkey who lives in a quiet small town on the English coast where nothing seems to inspire him. The only thing he finds interesting is bowling but he has always played by his rules, to the disapproval of the elderly bowls fraternity. But when he decides to team up with an older and more experienced bowler in order to take on the Australian bowls team, their town will experience a sort of awakening.
Why you should watch it: This movie was inspired by a true story which makes it more interesting since there isn’t anything new you will see here. But it is an intriguing story to follow, with a great soundtrack and bowling fans might enjoy it even more since they might recognize many famous bowling faces in their cameo roles.
When Jeff Tried to Save the World (2018)
What it’s about: This comedy-drama was based on a short film and it introduces us to a manager of an old-school bowling alley who finds out that the owner plans to sell it. But this also means that he is facing job loss which he can’t allow. He puts all his efforts into saving Winky’s World so he can continue with his life the way it has always been.
Why you should watch it: This is a slow-paced movie and it might be more interesting for the audience that knows something about bowling but this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give it a go. It has an interesting plot and it is a thoughtful story that centers more on people’s psychology than bowling itself.
Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama (1988)
What it’s about: This horror comedy introduces us to three fraternity boys who sneak into a sorority to witness the initiation of new pledges. After being caught, they are punished by helping the new pledges steal a trophy at the local bowling lane. But when an accident causes the trophy to break which lets an evil imp out, the town teens will find themselves in much more trouble than they thought they were already in.
Why you should watch it: If you want to go back to the eighties, enjoy its music and fashion and at the same time have fun, this movie might be a good choice for a lazy weekend day. It is completely over the top, low budget, and cheesy but it will make you laugh and scared at the same time, aware that you won’t get much of it but still have a good time.
Strikes and Spares (1934)
What it’s about: This is an old short movie that features Andy Varipapa, a professional bowler who is showing the proper ways of bowling. He first shows the correct way to grip and carry a bowling ball and demonstrates how to deliver the ball down the alley. In the end, he is making it all more interesting by performing several trick shots.
Why you should watch it: This movie was nominated for Oscar and it really worth your time. It is an excellent way to be introduced to this interesting sport and it shows how some professional bowlers could make a decent living even after playing professionally, by sharing their knowledge and skills.
Alley Cats Strike (2000)
What it’s about: This is the story of a sports rivalry between East and West Appleton who have battled in all possible sports, at least until East Appleton proposes bowling. But the problem is that none of the students bowl so West Appleton decides to approach a group of outcasts and ask them to bowl for their school. The ones who used to be mocked soon become the biggest hit in school and gain the respect of the “real” jocks.
Why you should watch it: Even though predictable, this is the kind of movie that brings a smile to your face, a true feel-good movie with an excellent cast consisting of talented young actors. You won’t regret seeing it and don’t forget to show it to your youngest, as well.
What it’s about: This movie takes place at a bowling alley during a popular disco bowl-o-rama where a series of bizarre murders begin to happen. The players of the two teams are slowly getting killed by a masked killer wearing black-bowling gloves.
Why you should watch it: If you are ready for a somewhat different bowling movie, this slasher comedy horror might be just what you are looking for. Full of gore and blood, disturbing humor, and perverse scenes, this is not everyone’s cup of tea but it might be a good choice for someone who is generally a fan of those types of movies.
Buffalo ‘66 (1998)
What it’s about: Vincent Gallo plays Billy, a convict who has been released from prison after 5 years. But as soon as gets out, he kidnaps Layla, a teenage student he takes to his parents, informing them that they are going to marry soon. Layla is forced to play along which in the end doesn’t seem to fall hard on her.
Why you should watch it: One of the masterpieces of underground cinema, this drama won’t lead you to a happy palace but will confront you with all the difficulties certain people experience. It is extremely dark and gloomy and a bit depressing, with its washed-out colors and unusual characters. It also contains one of the most iconic bowling scenes ever.
The Flintstones (1994)
What it’s about: John Goodman, Rick Moranis, and Rosie O’Donnell star in this movie adaptation of one of the most famous cartoons ever. It is set in a parallel modern-day Stone Age where we meet the Flintstones, a working-class family who are in charge of an executive job during which they learn that money can’t buy happiness.
Why you should watch it: If you are a bit nostalgic and remember your childhood days when you enjoyed somewhat different cartoons than today, you might want to see this easy-going flick. It is fun, with great music and excellent performances, and a good choice for the whole family. The movie consists of one of the most original bowling scenes and settings ever.
What it’s about: A HR director has to restructure a hospital which implies the closure of a maternity unit which is the main reason for their loss of money. But four women of different ages, convictions, and backgrounds decide to fight and save the maternity unit by forming a quartet united by their strong will and humanity.
Why you should watch it: This movie is based on a true story and even though it tackles a serious issue, it is told in a very funny way which makes it more plausible to watch. It will make you laugh and fight together with these four brave women.
What it’s about: Chul-Jong used to be one of the best bowling players ever but after an accident ended his professional career he completely alienated himself from that world. He is now bowling on the side to earn some money since he doesn’t earn much as a junk yark keeper. Hee-Jin owns a bowling alley where Chul-Jong plays and when the two meet an autistic young man with an immense talent for bowling, their life is about to change drastically.
Why you should watch it: This is a very good movie that deals with various issues, such as identity loss, and anxiety but also a neverending drive for something you love. It is interesting and intriguing, with a plot that won’t leave you alone until the movie ends.
What it’s about: When a local bowling club is up for a takeover, its members and the rest of the town as well agree on doing everything to save it from becoming the hall for poker machines. This huge problem ends in an epic battle where everyone wants to do their best, the young and the old and the bad and the good.
Why you should watch it: This is a very good Australian comedy with one of their most famous comedians, Mick Molloy, who also co-wrote the story. It is full of humor, witty and clever and the performances are brilliant, especially from the older Australian movie generations.