Pin Gods

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Pin Gods is a tiny little documentary about three guys, Bob, Tony, and Sonny, going on the Pro Bowlers Association tour in 1993 (or it may be 1994). It was shot on video by various sources and then transferred to film, but by and large (except for the very old footage) the picture quality is very consistent.

They are all inspired by the reigning champion, Walter Ray Williams, who will be on the tour as well. We meet them prior to the tour, watch them bowl, compare their standings, and see them advance and drop out, their families reactions, etc. It’s got a lot of great footage that was carefully assembled all over the country, and some great title screens that push the story along well. Interspersed within their stories is 60 yr old champion Carmen Sa… (his name was long and Italian and in script on the back of his shirt so I never got the whole thing) who preaches the gospel of the excitement and the science of bowling.

Our three bowlers are pretty good at ignoring the cameras, and their personalities are so…well, I mean, they are young, ambitious (one describes himself as cocky) wanna-be pro bowlers with a dream, and they are very competitive. But not necessarily born to the sport. The film does seem a lot longer than it actually is, but that may be because I can only watch so much bowling footage before I get sleepy. The conversations and interviews are interesting, and the turn of events on the 14th stop of their tour is interesting also. It’s not a wacky comedy, unless you want to laugh at middle class east coast Italians dreaming of the bowling circuit. At first it seems so kitschy and ludicrous you want to laugh, or think it’s a fake documentary, but once you see how really committed these boys are, you can’t mock them.

The music was written for the movie, and it’s kinda swingy loungy 50’s beat stuff but it emphasizes those great shirts perfectly, and our old pro Carmen. It’s a look at a world few people, even few sports enthusiasts, even think of, but the people involved in it are completely into it. Only in the US, I say.

If it’s playing in your town (it is in Austin at the Dobie) try and catch it, but I would recommend a matinee only because it doesn’t splice together as smoothly as I would like for six and a half bucks.

MPAA Rating Not rated; no objectionable material
Release date 5/22/1997
Time in minutes 82
Director Larry Locke
Studio Arc Pictures