The Good

A very well made documentary.

The Bad

No extra scenes on the disc I was sent.

I used to catch the tail end of bowling games when boxing was on free TV on the weekends. As boxing has been basically relegated (and thrived) on cable, I no longer got to check out the sport but I don't think I would ever describe bowling as boring. To me, there is something inherently interesting in whether or not the ball is going to take down all the pins or just most of them. Also, very few sports are as cut and dry as bowling is. A League of Ordinary Gentlemen gets to the heart of all this as it follows Pete Weber, Walter Ray Williams Jr., Chris Barnes and Wayne Webb as they give their best on the pro bowling circuit.

While the majority of the film follows Weber and Williams (who eventually go up against one another in the climax of the film), we get to see every level of success this game has to offer in it's coverage of Webb and Barnes. While Barnes is in the middle and he might eventually rise to the status of Williams or Weber, we see, in a very real way, just how tough life on the road can be when the camera focuses on Webb. Shown to us in a fairly straight forward manner, A League of Ordinary Gentlemen works because it transcends bowling. It shows us human beings trying to survive doing the thing they love.

Features

Sadly, Magnolia Films sent us a great movie on a screener DVD that didn't include any Special Features.

Video

Enhanced Widescreen Letterbox for 16x9. As this movie comes to us from HD-Net films, you can bet that this film (shot on the highest quality video) looks terrific. As someone who loves the darkness and inner sanctum of bowling alleys, I really loved the feelthat this movie had. I think it very much captured not only the lifestyle behind bowling but what it's like to play the game whether you are a pro or a wannabe.

Audio

Dolby Digital - Considering that this is a documentary, I was very impressed that this slicked up film (I am not sure the Maysles Bros. would approve) was seemingly able to be everywhere at once. Also, considering that documentary films capture life as it's being lived (or that's what I thought they were supposed to do), I was further impressed that the sound seemed to be top notch in every situation. While I understand that Reality TV has sort of compromised what has become of the traditional documentary, I still think that both types of forms, at their best, provide the same emotional impact and attachment.

Package

Lounge Lizards will certainly appreciate this simplistic cover which features someone throwing the ball at some pins, and the film's title, A League of Ordinary Gentlemen, in fluorescent lights. As Magnolia Films didn't send us a DVD with regular packaging, the front cover is all I can write about at this time.

Final Word

While I can appreciate Pete Weber's bombast and bravado (hey, he is one of the top players in his field), I gravitate a lot more towards someone like Walter Ray Williams. This guy just seems to represent what a sportsman should be. However, times have changed and marketing really is everything, so it makes sense that Weber would feel the need to take his game and his performance to the next level. I just can't help but think that there is something laughable about someone playing the game of bowling, and then doing "crotch chops" when they knock a bunch of pins down.

Bowling fans should be happy to own this but I think anyone who likes good movies, or documentaries, will surely appreciate A League of Ordinary Gentlemen.

A League of Ordinary Gentlemen was released May 5, 2004.