10 Iconic Bowling Scenes In Movies, Ranked

by: Aaron Lewcock

| October 23, 2019

Whether a movie is entirely based around bowling or only includes the game in a scene or two, it’s always great to see our favorite sport on the big screen. Every time it comes up in a film, it just makes us wanna hit the lanes ASAP!

So, today we figured we’d have some fun and toss a little inspiration down your lane with these hilarious, awesome, and even heartfelt bowling scenes from all kinds of movies, ranked from worst to best.

10. The Breakup (2006)

A passable, if not forgettable rom-com from the mid ’00s, Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston play a couple who would bowl together often until their titular breakup.

She tells him that he’s been kicked off the team, since “this is couples’ bowling and [they] are no longer a couple,” and Vaughn’s character, Gary, is pretty shaken up.

“I don’t think it’s a good idea for you and I to be around each other more than we have to right now,” says Aniston’s character, Brooke.

Gary simply replies, “I completely agree, maybe you should play some pinball.”

YouTube | XXKRH24XX

Just a reminder to keep your personal business out of the alley, I suppose!

9. The Next Karate Kid (1994)

With a whopping 7% on Rotten Tomatoes, the fourth (but not final) Karate Kid movie has at least one scene worth watching—the “Zen Bowling” scene.

Mr. Miyagi puts cocky bowlers in their place with his league of monks who basically meditate their way to victory. Miyagi explains that they don’t have to see the pins, only think about the target.

One monk lands his ball right in the gutter, but after a quick prayer, it flies back out and lands a strike!

YouTube | impressive movie63

If only it were always that easy.

8. Uncle Buck (1989)

Canadian comedy legend John Candy plays the heartwarming slob Buck Russell, who’s tasked with babysitting his brother’s angsty teenage daughter and two younger kids.

Being the kind of guy Buck is, he takes the kids to a bowling alley and shows them the ropes. The little girl, Maizy, does a granny bowl so lightly that the ball just kisses the first pin.

He reassures her that “if the object of the game were to get the ball as close to the pins without knocking them over, you would be champion of the world!”

YouTube | rrattlehead84

Soon after this, he also chases away one of the scummiest men to ever set foot in a bowling alley after he creeps on Buck’s 15-year-old niece. Yikes. We need more Uncle Bucks in the world.


7. Pleasantville (1998)

This unique movie is all about subverting the “ideal” American lifestyle as presented by early television sitcoms a la Leave It To Beaver and Father Knows Best.

Of course, you can’t present a perfect slice of Americana without a classic bowling alley. The opening of this scene is hilarious as the camera pans across three different lanes, all perfectly picking up a spare from a 7-10 split—AS IF!

YouTube | J.R. Miller

But things don’t stay perfect in Pleasantville for long, and as “actual, real rain” starts pouring down, George Parker talks about the unthinkable—his wife didn’t make him dinner.

Big Bob reassures the men, “We’re safe for now. Thank goodness we’re in a bowling alley.”


6. Critters (1986)

Monster movies of all kinds were a big hit in the ’80s, and Critters was a ridiculous and fun addition to the craze. For a movie that’s basically about small hairy aliens eating farmers, Critters had a lot going on. Like this scene where we’re introduced to the two intergalactic bounty hunters via the bowling alley.

After ripping off the entrance door, these two dudes slowly and silently make their way to a lane. The character known as Ug grabs a bowling ball and tosses it at the pins as if it were nothing. Boom! The pins shatter and the crowd is left shocked.

YouTube | Eric Swartz

“I wonder what team he’s on,” responds one onlooker. Yeah, I would too!


5. The Flintstones (1994)

Since the cartoon came out in 1961, bowling has been as much a part of The Flintstones as bad rock puns. The movie adaptation was faithful to the love of bowling, and showed ol’ “Twinkle Toes” on top of his game in the first act. Complete with a prehistoric crab resetting the pins, everything about this alley is straight out of the stone age.

“Okay, brother Flintstone, we need a strike to win,” says Barney Rubble. “Can you do it?”

Fred, in all his confidence, simply replies, “Is the Earth flat?”

And that’s just the kind of confidence we all need in the alleys, am I right?

YouTube Movies | NBC Universal

Plus, who doesn’t want to drink beer straight from a stone basin like that? That’s some bowling alley nightlife I could get into!


4. Men in Black 3 (2012)

Clearly not as good as the original, but MIB3 is still a lot of fun. In this odd yet fitting scene, our protagonists interrogate an alien informant by detaching his head and using it as a bowling ball.

Will Smith gets a 7-10 split, his partner “cleans” the alien head in a bag, Smith drops the head when attempting his second shot, grabs it again, and actually picks up the spare.

YouTube | Movieclips

With the head yelling at the two the entire time, it’s hard not to crack up at least a bit.


3. Superman III (1983)

The incomparable Christopher Reeves in his iconic role as Superman has all the action, fun, and charm that superhero movies had back when they were a rarity.

In this heartfelt scene, Clark Kent spares little Ricky from embarrassment brought on by the biggest jerk in the bowling alley, Brad.

Kent, who—spoiler alert—is Superman, pretends to get chalk clouds up in his face, forcing out an incredibly powerful sneeze. The ball thrusts full-speed into the pins, blowing them all to smithereens! The kids cheer, Brad sneers, and everything is just so satisfying.

YouTube | Jim Bridge

And yes, if it isn’t clear by now, I may have an unhealthy obsession with watching pins explode dramatically.


2. Kingpin (1996)

Woody Harrelson, Randy Quaid, and Bill Murray star in this ridiculous comedy about an ex-pro bowler who trains an Amish prodigy to be the best in the world. The entire film revolves around bowling, and most parts are laugh-out-loud hilarious, so it was pretty tough to pick just one moment.

My vote would probably have to go to the final showdown between Harrelson’s character, Roy Munson, and Bill Murray’s Ernie McCracken—a bowling antagonist only matched by The Jesus from The Big Lebowski. It’s as tense as it is silly, and Murray is the man you love to hate in any bowling competition.

YouTube | Movieclips

Fun fact, Murray actually bowled those three strikes in a row you see in this scene near the end of the film!


1. The Big Lebowski (1998)

It should come as no surprise that this Coen brothers classic made the #1 spot on our list. It’s an all-around fun ride of a film, but there are also so many memorable bowling moments.

From The Jesus’ ritualistic licking of his bowling ball to The Dude coining the phrase, “F*** it, let’s go bowling,” this movie has a lot of love for the great American pastime.

But for the purposes of picking one iconic bowling scene, we had to go with our man Walter and his, well, intense reinforcement of the rules.

No, Walt, no you’re not. Let’s just hope no one ends up in “a world of hurt.”

That’s definitely not all the bowling movie moments out there, so let us know which ones we missed and which are your favorites!

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