"High Roller" Bowls Strike by: Nathan Baker-Lutz

July 22, 2008

Like true professionals, Tom Malloy and Ross Marroso, directors of High Roller: The Bob Perry Story, can deflate the bumpers, buy white bowling shoes and name their bowling balls. High Roller is right down the middle as a unique documentary about Bob Perry, who seemed set to be one of the greatest bowlers or our lifetime, but after what seems like an endless barrage of croquet balls and Mafioso, is forced to fight his way back up from the gutter and reclaim his game. High Roller isn’t a traditional documentary; it’s mostly a chronicle and re-telling of the life of Bob Perry. Perry’s story is fascinating, even to non-bowlers, as the story unfolds through family interviews, old photographs, and a journey with Bob back to his old houses and haunts.
Brought up in a bowling family, Bob was quickly on his way to the World’s Fair junior finals before a freak croquet accident blinded his left eye. His averaged dropped from 220 to 70. Bob spent the next summer routinely rolling for hours until he was back up to form - when he promptly was hit by a cab in New York which crushed both his legs.
I write rather tongue-in-cheek about it, but Bob’s positive attitude and motivation to overcome pain-killer addictions and time in jail is contagious. The film is smooth, with tight edits and a solid understanding of Bob’s life. Bob Perry himself is charming and honest as he re-tells his story leading up to the Super Bowl High Roller Tournament in Las Vegas. The story is compelling and real, and you can’t help but be motivated by Bob’s triumphs.
The documentary itself is direct and optimistic. At 55 minutes, the length is ideal, and the story is told with compassion and respect. However, some low points for Bob are sugar coated. For instance, Bob often supported his habits with money loaned to him from his sisters, which he never paid back, and often would do whatever it took to feed his demons.
Bob Perry’s story kept me enthralled despite my lack of knowledge of a seemingly vast bowling world. The film tells you everything you need to know to get by, and for the ten dollars they are charging at echelonstudios.us for the DVD, it might be worth it, especially if you need a reminder of how good your life may actually be. By Nathan Baker-Lutz