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The Big Lebowski

A comedy movie directed by Ethan and Joel Coen

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A Classic Cult Classic.

  • Jan 10, 2011
  • by
**** 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 story. I will admit that when I first saw this film, I didn't love it as much as I do now. However, I have since read many books and taken note of many things, all of which accumulate to my current admiration. There's something strangely deep about this Coen Brothers joint, and I think a lot of it resides in the fact that nearly everything in "The Big Lebowski" means something. It matters not of how big or small that "thing" happens to be; whether it is indirect symbolism through an unnaturally tough night at bowling, or maybe a very direct example of symbolic filmmaking through a lecture courtesy of Sam Elliot. I think what matters is how the Coen Brothers take it-whatever it is-and where they choose to place it. Because of this, I find it somewhat essential to pay close attention to "The Big Lebowski"; for it is a film which needs to not only be seen, but also understood. I will admit that the cult status can be a bit misleading; since many cult classics before have proved to be disappointments. The beauty is that unlike most movies of its type, "The Big Lebowski" is a cult film which doesn't build itself around hilarious clichés, cheesiness, camp, or the essential hatred or film critics. Instead, it's pretty intelligent and is a true knee-slapper when it comes to crafty comedy. It's also well acted and well directed, as well as beautifully shot and lovingly conceived. You can choose to view "The Big Lebowski" as nothing more than simple, forgettable movie; or on the contrary, you can choose to see it as nothing more. I don't particularly dislike those who can't see what's so great about "The Big Lebowski", since cult films aren't exactly made to appeal to everyone's liking. However, it's still a good laugh and maybe even more. Just look at the cult behind it. Only then will you see just how big this film got over time. It's a wonder how such an intentionally little film can become big over time. And just so you know: it's not going to happen often. Perhaps this is the last big cult classic. Who cares? It exists, it's wonderful, and it's the kind of punchy film that I simply have to love. Whether you seek a laugh, insight, or a strangely philosophical undertone, "Lebowski" offers each and every one of them. Maybe that is why it's such a respectable piece of work.

The Dude (real name: Jeffrey Lebowski) is a lazy man. He hasn't done much with his life, although he has his certain joints; one of them being his passion for bowling. He has his friends, and he has one heck of a heart. He just doesn't know it yet. So what happens when one night, this particularly lazy man's favorite rug is urinated upon by an angry, Asian-American thug looking for a man of an identical last name? He consults the real Lebowski, that's what! Upon meeting the "Big Lebowski", who is a wheel-chair bound millionaire, The Dude is dragged into his world. When Mr. Lebowski's wife goes missing (possibly due to a kidnapping), the man sends the Dude (accompanied by his long-time bowling partner/friend Walter Sobchak) on a quest to make things right with her possible captors (through a money exchange, no doubt). When Walter and The Dude decide to keep the money and send everyone on their way, things get bad really fast. In a twisted turn of events, Dude's car is stolen, a 15 year-old boy gets rich, The Dude learns of Mr. Lebowski's trophy wife's shady past, and so on and so forth. What you get out of the experience is a good example of how to cleverly place plot devices in an attempt to be funny, but bring out a whole lot more as well. "The Big Lebowski" is a treasure, perhaps, because of its characters. Is it really possible to NOT like The Dude? The same goes for his partner-in-crime Walter. Is it possible to dislike him as well? I really don't see how anyone could not get a good laugh out of "Lebowski". It tells a story of at least some meaning, and has an undeniably hilarious charm going on throughout. Every single character is as quirky and well-thought out as Coen Brothers characters should be. Long story short: I loved watching "The Big Lebowski". It's a lot of fun, and probably one of the craftiest comedies ever made. Seldom do "comedy films" exist for anything more than the intended "laugh". This Coen Brothers offering seems to live for far more than comedic thrills, and delivers just about everything that a great movie should. It's one heck of a time.

You know that you love Jeff Bridges. You can sure as hell deny it, but deep down inside, somewhere in your shady little mind, you admire the guy. It's hard to like Bridges without knowing his character in this film. The Dude is a character whom Jeff Bridges tackles perfectly; a flamboyant slacker with a pretty big heart. Bridges makes the character lazy, hilarious, yet likable and sympathetic. There's more than comedic brilliance to be found in this performance; there's also plenty of complex mastery (in other subjects, of course). John Goodman also gets the show going as Walter; the ex-Vietnam veteran who has a short temper, a sharp tongue, and an appetite which often seeks new thrills and many of life's other surprises. This is clear throughout the film, as he seems to serve as a sort of "spice"; thus he can make the funny situation even funnier. Another key actor is Steve Buscemi, who shines only because he serves as a somewhat complex little character; a non-adventurous human being who, at the first breath of true thrills, alas looses himself to life's intensity. Jullianne Moore also gives an interesting performance as Maud Lebowski; Mr. Lebowski's intelligent and cunning daughter. I could go on-and-on about these actors and their characters, although unless I'm bound to write a novel, I see no point. Cameos include David Thewlis, John Turturro, Philip Seymour Hoffman (who is not to be missed), and Jon Polito. Sam Elliot also stars as "The Stranger"; a character who provides an almost soothing sense of narration for the film when it needs it. Thank god for his existence!

The Coen Brothers can dazzle on many levels. One thing that they can succeed in is providing interesting visuals. Their cinematography is mostly just down-right brilliant; while their dream sequences often highlight the comical realms of surrealism. "The Big Lebowski", for all it's got, is a typical day with the Coens. The film's visual style is a true winner, with typically awesome camera angles/shots and even more interesting dream segments. I particularly liked the "Gutterballs" dream, which felt like a homage to the many visual masterpieces of cinema. But that wasn't the only indication in which the filmmakers expressed their love for films; there were many more moments as well. Perhaps "The Big Lebowski" references classic noirs, or maybe even spoofs them. What I also loved about the film's style was its soundtrack, which is one of the main reasons to why it's such a hit. The music of "The Big Lebowski" is magnificent not because it MEANS anything; but rather because it simply fits in perfectly with whatever may be going on. It's also very unique and diverse; sporting music of the likes of Bob Dylan and even The Gypsy Kings. I liked this, just as I liked everything else about "Lebowski". Like I said, the film is a treasure. It's not just another cult film which will soon be dragged into the gutter along with countless others. It's a big film and it will stay big, and you know what: I'm damn happy about that. For all Coen Brothers fans; this is another wonderful edition to the family.

This is one of the Coen Brothers' best films; thoughtful, consistently hilarious, and even complex. It's a comedy like no other, one that is visually whimsical and ominously endearing. The characters are well-built and suitably quirky, yet there is something sort of intriguing about the film. There's something more to it...seemingly. There's something beyond the humor; beyond the countless amount of quotes. It's a good film for all its obvious attributes, but a great one for all its secrets. I think that to really get the film, you have to read a lot about it or perhaps discover what lies beneath for yourself. For the love of cult films, just see the darned thing. It matters not of whether you think it's mere cult snuff or masterpiece; all that seems to really matter is your own opinion. I'd like to talk this film over with some people, since everything from the production to the art involved proves thought-provoking. Few comedies have done this. Most just try to make us laugh like mindless men, which we are not. "The Big Lebowski" understands what film lovers are; it knows what we have been wanting for so long. Thus it takes it upon itself to deliver the cinematic goods. For beauty, complexity, hilarity, and even sincerity, try The Dude's joint. It's a legendary film; something I will remember for ages to come. I am working at being a huge fan of the film, and perhaps someday I will attend the ever-so-famous "Lebowski-Fest". I'm getting there. Perhaps we all are. Because we are Achievers. And we are the men for our time and place. Sometimes there's a man. Sometimes there's a man. For this film, it was not one man, but thousands and millions of men. That's how much it took to make "The Big Lebowski" the success that it is today. Needless to say, it all paid off. Now I can just sit here and enjoy this film as Walter would with his cup of Coffee. Far out, man. Far out.

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January 17, 2011
Yes another 5 star classic for sure, my favorite actor Steve Buscemi of course shines, but so does every one.
January 17, 2011
Indeed. The Dude abides.
January 10, 2011
Great review! When I saw the part of your review that you said "the dude" I thought about TRUE GRIT with the DUDE taking on THE DUKE LOL! Thanks for the review!!
January 11, 2011
More The Big Lebowski reviews
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.
Quick Tip by . July 21, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
The Coen brothers never go wrong and with the Dude you'll be drinking white Russians til you're sick
About the reviewer
Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #11
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … 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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