Bowling is enjoyed by more than 100 million people across the globe. While lots of people love bowling, it can be hard to find great movies about this recreational sport. If you’re a bowling fan, you’ll want to make sure you check out this list of the best bowling movies.
1. Kingpin (1996)
English 1h 54m IMDb
Directors: Bobby FarrellyPeter Farrelly
Stars: Woody Harrelson, Randy Quaid, Bill Murray
This 1996 Farrelly brothers comedy is one of the most beloved bowling movies of all time. The movie follows Roy Munson, a talented bowler that loses it all when he tries to swindle a group of amateur bowlers. Unable to bowl, Roy becomes the manager of an Amish bowling prodigy.
You’ll find plenty of laugh-out-loud moments in this comedy, especially if you’re a fan of crude humor. While the movie’s characters aren’t always likable, it’s a lot of fun to watch the exploits of this cast of misfits. In addition to jokes, the film has an interesting story packed with twists and turns.
The movie also has a lot of terrific performances from actors like Woody Harrelson, Randy Quaid, and Bill Murray. You might not want to watch this one for your kids, but if you’re looking for laughs, you’ll have a blast with this bowling movie.
2. Split (2016)
English 1h 30m IMDb
Director: Jamie Buckner
Stars: Tracy Weiler, Christopher Guetig, Sean C. Keller
If you’re in the mood for a bowling-themed romantic comedy, you’ll want to check out Split. The film follows Cassie, a woman who’s always had a thing for bowlers. As her thirtieth birthday draws near, Cassie decides she’s done playing the field and plans to settle down with her dream man within a month.
While the premise might seem a little unrealistic, the characters in the movie feel very believable. Everyone, from Cassie to the side characters, is fleshed out and engaging to watch on screen. You’ll find plenty of romance here, but there’s also a big focus on bowling, with many pivotal scenes taking place at the bowling alley.
The movie doesn’t shy away from rom-com tropes, but if it’s a genre that you enjoy, there’s a good chance you’ll like this film as well. It’s a light, fun movie made for people that love romance and bowling.
3. Dreamer (1979)
English 1h 30m IMDb
Director: Noel Nosseck
Stars: Tim Matheson, Susan Blakely, Jack Warden
Harold has dreamed of becoming a championship bowler ever since he was young. Now, all of his dreams are on the verge of coming true. Will he win the championship and buy his own lanes, or will achieving his dreams cost him the woman that he loves?
This is a laid-back, quiet movie that’s light on drama. While Harold has to make difficult decisions, the movie’s stakes aren’t overly high. Some might find the movie to be a bit boring, but others will appreciate the film’s slice-of-life story.
Anyone that’s dreamed of becoming a professional bowler will be able to relate to the characters in Dreamer. Viewers will also appreciate the strong performances from Tim Matheson and Susan Blakely. This is a film about bowling, but it’s also a movie that’s about what it takes to bring your dreams to life.
4. The Big Lebowski (1998)
English German Hebrew Spanish 1h 57m IMDb
Directors: Joel CoenEthan Coen (uncredited)
Stars: Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Julianne Moore
Bowling is essential to The Big Lebowski, a film about a slacker who becomes involved in a kidnapping plot after he’s a victim of mistaken identity. The main character, who is known as The Dude, is an avid bowler, as are his closest friends. Some of the movie’s best scenes take place at the bowling alley.
Of course, The Big Lebowski isn’t just a movie for bowling fans. In 2014, the movie was officially added to The National Film Registry, which preserves films that are deemed culturally significant. It’s a movie that’s beloved by critics and audiences alike.
While the movie can be a little strange at times, this is a black comedy that is designed to appeal to a wide audience. It’s filled with quotable lines and hilarious moments. It’s likely that people will still be quoting The Dude years from now!
English 1h 36m IMDb
Director: Ryan Nicholson
Stars: Alastair Gamble, Mihola Terzic, Nathan Witte
Bowling and horror might seem like a strange combination, but Gutterballs shows that the two can be a perfect match! The movie is centered around a series of murders that take place during a midnight bowl-a-rama at a local bowling alley. One by one, people are attacked by a killer wearing black bowling gloves.
This dark, gory movie won’t be to everyone’s tastes. While the movie has a fairly humorous tone, the violence can get very extreme. However, if you’re a fan of hardcore horror, you may find that this movie is right up your alley.
Not only is this movie packed with grisly kills, but it also has a great soundtrack. In fact, you might have a few songs stuck in your head by the time the movie is over. You won’t be able to look at bowling the same way after you see some of these kills.
6. Lars and the Real Girl (2007)
English Spanish 1h 46m IMDb
Director: Craig Gillespie
Stars: Ryan Gosling, Emily Mortimer, Paul Schneider
Lars has always spent a lot of time on his own. His friends are excited when he announces that he’s met someone, but are horrified to discover that Lars’ new girlfriend is a life-sized doll. However, when Lars goes on a bowling date with a co-worker, he starts to think that he might be happier with a real girl.
While the premise of this movie might seem a little strange, it’s actually a charming film with lots of heart. Ryan Gosling is great in the role of Lars, and Kelli Garner is wonderful as his love interest. It has quite a few laughs, but overall, it’s a very touching film.
Bowling isn’t the focus of Lars and the Real Girl, but some of the movie’s most important scenes take place at the bowling alley. It’s a great movie that will make you want to go on your own bowling date.
7. Racing With the Moon (1984)
English 1h 48m IMDb
Director: Richard Benjamin
Stars: Sean Penn, Elizabeth McGovern, Nicolas Cage
Set in the 1940s, Racing With the Moon follows two young men that work at their local bowling alley. Both boys have been drafted to fight in the war. With only six weeks left before they ship out, the pair tries to make the most of the time they have left.
This movie stars a very young Nicolas Cage and Sean Penn. The actors both give stellar performances, and it’s a lot of fun to see them while they’re so young. While the movie skews towards melodrama, it also has a lot of charming scenes, especially when you see the boys setting pins at the bowling alley.
Watching this coming-of-age tale will give you a glimpse of what bowling alleys looked like in the 1940s. It’s a sweet, thoughtful, and moving film that’s sure to stick with you even after the credits roll.
8. Grease 2 (1982)
English 1h 55m IMDb
Director: Patricia Birch
Stars: Michelle Pfeiffer, Maxwell Caulfield, Lorna Luft
Set two years after Grease, Grease 2 follows Sandy’s cousin Michael as he begins attending Rydell High. Michael soon falls for Stephanie, the leader of the Pink Ladies. When he asks her out, Stephanie says she only dates “cool riders,” so Michael begins to transform himself into a motorcycle man.
Grease 2 bombed when it was released in theaters, but since then, it’s developed a cult following. Fans of the film love seeing Michelle Pfeiffer singing her heart out in the role of Stephanie. The movie eventually spawned its own musical called Cool Rider.
While Grease 2 may not be as popular as the original film, it’s a fun movie with a lot of catchy songs. There’s even a big musical number set in a bowling alley called “We’re Going to Score Tonight.” It’s as close as you can come to an actual bowling musical!
9. A League of Ordinary Gentlemen (2004)
English 1h 33m IMDb
Director: Christopher Browne
Stars: Walter Ray Williams, Charles Barkley, Chris Barnes
Have you ever wanted to get a glimpse into the life of a professional bowler? A League of Ordinary Gentlemen is a documentary follows four pro bowlers, including a 20-time champion and a young player that is just starting to launch his pro career.
This movie shows a side of bowling that the average person never sees. It’s hard not to root for the bowlers at the center of the film, especially as they try to revitalize their chosen sport. Even people that aren’t big fans of bowling will be fascinated by the stories told here.
There are lots of people that have daydreamed about bowling professionally, but few people know what it’s really like. While it might sound strange, bowling really is a job for some people. This documentary will let you see what it would actually be like to bowl for a living.
10. The Flintstones (1994)
English 1h 31m IMDb
Bowling was always a big part of The Flintstones animated series, so it should be no surprise that it’s also an essential part of the 1994 live-action film. During the movie, you can see John Goodman bring the famous twinkle toes of Fred Flintstone to life!
While it’s fun to watch the actors, the real highlight of this movie might be the set design. It’s a blast to look at all the locations in the film, especially the Bedrock Bowl-a-Rama. You’ll wish that you could visit this bowling alley in real life.
There are a few dark moments in the film, but overall, it’s a movie that you can enjoy with your entire family. Whether you grew up watching The Flintstones or don’t know much about the classic cartoon, you’ll find this to be a fun movie. It’s the kind of film that you could only make in the 90s!
11. Atom the Amazing Zombie Killer (2012)
English 1h 20m IMDb
Directors: Zack BeinsRichard Taylor
Stars: Tom Autry, Matthew M. Baxter, Brad Beins
Atom loves horror movies almost as much as he loves bowling. Unfortunately, after he suffers a head injury, he starts to think that his life is a horror movie. He becomes convinced that everyone around him is a zombie, and he tries to fend off the apocalypse at the local bowling alley.
This horror comedy definitely isn’t afraid to venture into gross-out territory. If you’re squeamish, you might not have the stomach for some of the grisly kills in this film. However, if you love gore and low-brow humor, there’s a good chance you’ll love this movie too.
From start to finish, this movie keeps its energy levels high. You’ll see plenty of “zombies” killed by bowling balls here, but there are lots of other inventive kills as well. If you’re a bowling and horror fan like Atom is, this film was made for you!
12. The Deer Hunter (1978)
English Vietnamese French Russian Cantonese 3h 3m IMDb
Director: Michael Cimino
Stars: Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken, John Cazale
The Deer Hunter is considered by many to be one of the best films ever made. This wartime drama follows a group of men who had their lives changed by the Vietnam War. Although the movie isn’t about bowling, one of its most famous scenes takes place in a bowling alley.
The bowling alley scenes were filmed at the Bowladrome Lanes, which are located in Struthers, OH. The bowling alley has been renovated and renamed since the movie was made, but you can still visit it and even bowl there today. It’s worth seeing if you’re in the area!
The Deer Hunter features incredible performances from some of the best actors in the world, including Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken, John Cazale, and Meryl Streep. There aren’t many bowling films that have been nominated for an Academy Award, but this movie received 9 nominations and won five awards in total.
If you’re a bowling and film fan, you’ll want to check out all the best bowling movies. From romantic comedies to dramas to horror films, you can find great bowling films in any genre you can imagine. Watch one of these flicks when you’re in the mood to bowl.