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The Big Lebowski

A comedy movie directed by Ethan and Joel Coen

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Strikes and Gutters in the Bowling Alley of Life

  • Jul 29, 2003
Why do so few films develop a cult following which increases in number and intensity each year? For example, The Big Lebowski. Can you think of another film which has an annual festival in its sole honor? (It was held this year in Louisville.) I was mulling about this as I recently saw it again. Much funnier this time. For me, the same is true of Young Frankenstein. Films never change but we do. So how have I changed? If The Big Lebowski is even funnier the next time, what does that reveal about me? More mulling awaits me.

Meanwhile, given the variety of screenplays they have co-authored, produced, directed thus far, Joel and Ethan Coen cannot be accused of predictability. Who else has created a body of work as varied as theirs? Blood Simple (1985), Raising Arizona (1987), Miller's Crossing (1990), Barton Fink (1991), The Hudsucker Proxy (1994), Fargo (1996) The Big Lebowski (1998), O, Brother, Where Art Thou? ((2000), and The Man Who Wasn't There (2001). Each has its own loyal and substantial following. Fargo remains my personal favorite but, over time, as I keep changing, perhaps The Big Lebowski will replace it.

Few people know that, in fact, the Coens collaborated on its screenplay with members of the Monty Python Flying Circus, Hunter Thompson, Ken Kesey, Salvador Dali, and William M. Gaines. How else to explain the absence of a coherent plot? Fortunately, we have an especially interesting cast of characters in addition to the two Jeffrey Lebowskis (Lebowskes?): "The Big's" wife Bunny (Tara Reid) who creates serious problems for "Dude" because she owes money to Jackie Treehorn (Ben Gazzara) and is kidnapped, with a ransom of $1-million demanded; "The Big's" daughter Maude (Julianne Moore) who really should join a flying circus; Jesus (John Turturro), a champion bowler who prefers blue language and purple clothing; Walter Sobchak (John Goodman), probably "Dude's" best friend; and Donny (Steve Buscemi), another of "Dude's" close friends. Much time is spent on consuming White Russians as well as on bowling, kidnapping, cursing, extortion, sex, and...

For many of us, this film is an acquired taste. I enjoy it more each time I see it; others, I realize, will not see it through to completion. For them, it makes no sense. In this context, I am reminded of Henry Ford's observation that whether you think you can or think you can't, you're right.

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October 21, 2010
CLASSIC, love Steve Buscemi. Great review.
More The Big Lebowski reviews
review by . January 10, 2011
**** out of ****      Is it fair to call a film "great" purely based on directorial perfection? Is it really right to consider a cult film a "classic"? I questioned each and every one of these things while watching Joel and Ethan Coen's massive cult masterpiece "The Big Lebowski", and when the credits rolled, the brothers had answered all of my questions. But it took more than one sit-down to realize just why people so closely follow The Dude's …
review by . March 15, 2011
Something about The Big Lebowski just seems eerily perfect. I love the Coens filmography I have seen, and I think that The Big Lebowski is definitely their best work thus far. I haven't seen Fargo yet though, so I could very well change my opinion with a viewing of it though. The Big Lebowski is easily one of the best film-noir comedies ever made and one of the greatest comedy of all time. It may not be perfect, but it balances a great story, a great dream sequence, readily quotable lines, …
review by . February 25, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
was a great noir debut about misunderstanding identity.  Raising Arizona was a screwball comedy about stealing an identity.  Miller's Crossing was a deep gangster movie about discovering identity ("Nobody knows anybody. Not that well")  Barton Fink was a Hollywood insiders movie about understanding your own identity.  The Hudsucker Proxy was a fast-talking dialogue driven 1930s comedy about keeping your identity in the face of all odds against.    Fargo …
review by . July 13, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Dude, the chinaman is not the issue here...
The Coen Brothers. Jeff Bridges. Steve Buscemi. John Goodman. Julianne Moore. Sam god-damn Elliot. Seriously – what more can you ask for in a film?      From start to finish, the Coen Brother’s “The Big Lebowski” is going to take you on a wild journey through the depths of the local bowling alley to confrontations with German nihilists and pornography tycoons to random instances of urination – this movie has it all.      I originally …
review by . July 13, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
best comedy ever.
What Pompted You to write a Review?   I couldn't stop laughing when i saw this movie.This movie made me try my first white russian tahnk you big lebowski for introducing me to that drink.     How was the Plot, Acting, Direction?   That was an orignal plot that realy pulled all the comedy together.     Were You ENTERTAINED?   I have seen the movie 20 times and i still laugh.     Did It Fulfill Expectations? Hype …
review by . July 13, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Lebowski Is Here To Stay
When I first saw this movie I was fairly young, enough so that I didn't really get the humor. But, only now after watching it again can I really see how great a movie this is, from fever dreams about bowling with the gods to scattering of "Donny's" ashes flying back into Jeff Bridges face, this is a funny movie. But, then again, can you expect anything less from the Coen brothers? The plot is great, the acting is quirky but funny, and direction just as good.      …
review by . July 10, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
This movie is a Coen Brother classic. It follows a man known as "The Dude" through a series of mishaps that all happen because his real name happens to be Mr. Lebowski. In classic Coen brothers style, There are plenty of intertwining plot lines that require you to have a flow chart ready, but once again, all is explained in the end. This movie is a prime example of the videography that I have come to associate with The Coen Brothers. But i will say, it isn't for everyone. It can be …
Quick Tip by . October 07, 2010
posted in Cult Cinema
I just don't understand why anyone ever laughs at this. People whose opinions I trust all call me an idiot, but ... you can't laugh at what ain't funny.
review by . May 11, 2010
   Jeffrey "The Dude" Lebowski (Jeff Bridges) is an unemployed slacker whose only interest is bowling with his moronic friends (John Goodman and Steve Buscemi).  He becomes involved in a kidnapping case when he is mistaken for a millionaire also named Lebowski.  Mayhem ensues. I had heard for years that this was a Great Movie, a piece of Film Art from the Coen Brothers.  So much for my curiosity.  If you like your movies PG like I do, this is a movie to avoid …
Quick Tip by . July 26, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
I have watched the movie more times than I can remember and it remains sharp and funny. Don't watch it cut for TV, it just doesn't make sense.
About the reviewer
Robert Morris ()
Ranked #168
Professionally, I am an independent management consultant who specializes in accelerated executive development and breakthrough high-impact organizational performance. I also review mostly business books … more
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About this movie


The Coen brothers have done it again. Mixing in Leninist philosophy, mistaken identity, crazy characters, a kidnapping plot, and a deep love of bowling, they have unleashed upon an unsuspecting world the many glories of THE BIG LEBOWSKI. Jeff Bridges plays Jeff Lebowski, known as the Dude, a laid-back, easygoing burnout who happens to have the same name as a millionaire whose wife owes a lot of dangerous people a whole bunch of money--resulting in the Dude having his rug soiled, sending him spiraling into the Los Angeles underworld.

The film is beautiful to look at, especially the scenes in the bowling alley, which feature a vast array of bizarre characters--including Steve Buscemi, John Turturro, Sam Elliott, and the movie-stealing, riotously funny John Goodman as the Dude's crazy best buddy. As usual in Coen brothers films (BARTON FINK, RAISING ARIZONA), the dialogue is hysterically warped; the plot is confusing, complicated, and kinetic; the soundtrack is virtually another character; and th...
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Director: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Genre: Comedy
Release Date: 6 March 1998 (USA)
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Runtime: 117 min
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