A League of Ordinary Gentlemen


Documentary / Sport

Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 91%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 75%
IMDb Rating 7.1 10 384

Plot summary

October 07, 2022 at 05:37 PM


Christopher Browne

Top cast

Timothy Busfield as Self - Actor / Producer
720p.WEB 1080p.WEB
864.77 MB
English 2.0
23.976 fps
1 hr 33 min
P/S ...
1.57 GB
English 2.0
23.976 fps
1 hr 33 min
P/S ...

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by bandw 9 / 10

An unvarnished behind-the-scenes look at the Pro Bowlers Associaion

An initial brief history details the decline of bowling in past decades, culminating in ABC television discontinuing coverage of the sport in 1997. But then in 2000 three ex-Microsoft execs bought the Pro Bowlers Association (PBA) for $5 million with the idea of resuscitating the sport. They hired Steve Miller, previously Nike's Director of Global Sports Marketing, as CEO of the PBA. Miller is a no-nonsense, tough, foul-mouthed, organizer. He is quoted as saying that his main focus in on the sponsors and the audience and that he views the players as replaceable. Whatever you feel about Miller, he was successful in putting bowling back on the map, landing a TV contract with ESPN.

This documentary is not so much about bowling as it is about people. In addition to getting to know Miller we follow four pro bowlers during the 2002-2003 PBA tour season, leading up to the final World Championship. We follow Pete Weber (the flamboyant bad boy), Walter Ray Williams (the well-adjusted true pro), Chris Barnes (the rising young star), and Wayne Webb (rapidly becoming a has been). I was surprised at how much access the filmmakers were given to the people involved. Through interviews with them and their significant others, and watching their behavior on the lanes, we get to know them pretty well. We get beyond the usual, "I take it one day at a time," and "I give it my best every day." For example, consider this quote from Wayne Webb, "Giving your whole life to something, thinking it will never die, thinking it will never go bad, and then it does, and having nothing to back me up, no college, no other career to step into, then that part of it is the part that really hurts."

I found the reaction shots, where the camera would linger on a person who was not at the center of the action, to be very effective. The looks of frustration and dejection told us a lot. One of the most poignant scenes had Wayne walking alone across an empty parking lot to his car at night, after a loss.

Wayne confessed to having a gambling problem, but most all of these bowlers must be gamblers to some extent. They go to the tournaments and there is a very good chance that they will come away with no money and, given the costs to participate, they will lose money. A profession where you never know when you will get a reward is a risky one. The toll this lifestyle takes on the players and their families is well presented.

After hearing some of the language used by these players I have to question the use of the word "gentlemen" in the title. A more appropriate title would be, "A League of Ordinary Men."

The music adds a great deal to the proceedings. The use of some classical pieces by Mozart and Bach would seem an odd choice, but they were effective. And original music by Gary Meister complemented the moods of the film well.

I am an ex-bowler who used to bowl upward to fifty lines a week, so I know the appeal of participating, but I think the sport is always going to be fighting a stiff headwind as a spectator sport. For one thing, it is hard to view bowlers as athletes. A couple of the shots in this film were blocked by the enormous guts of some of the competitors. And many of the top bowlers seem to be in their 40s. Some aggressive young stars would help. Plus there is not much variety to keep your interest--it's just following the ball down the alley and seeing how many pins fall. The ambiance of a bowling alley is a bit dark and claustrophobic, especially compared to a golf course, or a baseball or football field. And it's frequently the case that the match play events are settled long before the tenth frame, so there is not much tension. It was fortunate that the final game in this movie went into the tenth frame.

I give this movie a lot of credit for its honesty and its production values. You would not have to be a bowler to find it interesting.

Reviewed by SONNYK_USA 7 / 10

BOWLING'S BACK BABY!!! This review has NOT been brought to you by Odor-Eaters

Almost every major sport has been 'modernized' in order to compete with the growing demand for LIVE sports on television, and now the long-forgotten endeavor known as Professional American bowling re-enters the media spotlight with a BANG! For decades bowling has been a favorite of the blue collar set for it's mixture of 'beerdrinking & camaraderie', or basically a glorified 'boys-night-out' while the wives did their thing at home. Amidst this laid-back milieu the Professional Bowlers Association began to cultivate a more refined interest in the game for those bowlers capable of consistent 'perfect' games (that's a 300 score). ABC's 'Wide World of Sports' came on board and the sport seemed legitimized for many years until ABC left and the league itself faced bankruptcy.

Enter the 'new blood'. It only cost a few guys from Microsoft $5 million to BUY the PBA and launch their own strategy to bring bowling back to the world stage. This film entertainingly chronicles both the pluses and minuses of modernizing a long beloved sport as well as what it takes to get everyone on the 'same page'. A perfect example of this is when new CEO Steve Miller opens the normally low-key pre-season league meeting with a slew of visceral invectives that compared favorably in my mind with Alec Baldwin's f-word laden opening speech in "Glengarry, Glen Ross." As you can see, this is not your ordinary behind-the-scenes sports documentary with no punches pulled and nothing having to be censored for FCC approval. Best of all, the filmmakers have chosen several bowlers to profile that encompass almost everything the sport represents while managing to incorporate the requisite 'drama' that separates exciting docu-tainment like this from your ordinary, average sports documentary.

Most notable exception to the idea of 'blue collar' bowling is Walter Ray Williams Jr., a former physics professor who's parlayed his knowledge of centrifugal force (along with a keen eye) into a string of championships in both bowling and horseshoes. His laid-back style makes him the obvious 'good guy' in this competitive tale, but he's also the man that everyone else is out to beat.

His main nemesis is outlaw bowler Pete Weber, the son of PBA legend Dick Weber and the exact opposite of Walter in every way except his desire to knock down pins. Pete is the John McEnroe of bowling with his loud mouth, dark sunglasses, and inappropriate psyche-out methods that include taunting opponents as well as his signature gesture - the 'crotch-chop'.

Film follows the entire season from start to finish culminating with the first-ever 2003 PBA World Championships in Detroit, MI. This is one showdown that's worth the price of admission alone and seeing bowling on the big screen adds a lot more to excitement and suspense. Perfect movie for a double date followed by a night at the lanes. Get the tix, and set up the pins - BOWLING'S BACK BABY!!!

Reviewed by gsprods 10 / 10

Great Documentary

I saw this at the CineVegas Festival. It's about the Microsoft executives who purchased the struggling Pro Bowlers Tour and tried to turn it into a profitable sports league. Several of the players are profiled, including the 2 biggest stars (Walter Ray Williams & Pete Weber), an up and coming star (Chris Barnes) and a "has-been" (Wayne Webb) who is trying to reclaim his 70s and 80s stardom. This film shows the psychological pain that many of these players have to endure as a result of brutal travel schedules, long hours away from their families, low pay and the lack of respect they often receive in their chosen profession. It's an entertaining and heart-breaking film that will appeal to anyone who likes underdog stories about real people, it's not just for bowling fans.

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