Big Lebowski, The (1998)

Hoo yeah, more than just a pretty face!

Hoo yeah, more than just a pretty face!

Genre: Comedy Crime Mystery

Starring: Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart  Fearless), John Goodman (Barton Fink "Roseanne")

Directed By: The Coen Brothers (Raising Arizona No Country for Old Men)

Overview: Some Dude gets caught up in a case of mistaken identity turned kidnapping investigation.

Once upon a time, Squish bought a book called 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die. It sorta kinda changed his life. The unfortunate thing about this book is that it also sorta kinda ruined very many films for him, because most of the entries in said book include the twist, the conclusion or 'the big reveal' of the film - which I absolutely despise. I quickly stopped reading 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, preferring to use it as a coffee table book and master list. Now as host of the 1001 Club, I'm again reading the book, or more specifically, reading about the movies I've watched already, and loving it, especially with films like The Big Lebowski. That's mainly because without 1001 Movies, I'd never have known that this was Noir-inspired:

"the Coen Brothers... tackle Raymond Chandler and his LA-based tales of mystery... Gone is Chandler's stoic private detective, Philip Marlowe, replaced by the one, the only... "The Dude." ... Along with the Chandler essentials of mistaken identity, crime lords, femme fatales, sexual deviants, and ransom demands, The Big Lebowski also features numerous Coen Brothers eccentricities." - 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die

For those readers out there who were raised by wolves and don't already know about The Big Lebowski, let me tell you what this intricately simple story is about: an unemployed hippie pothead and bowling fanatic named Lebowski (but just call him Dude), comes home to find ruffians in his house. They quickly proceed to stick his head in the toilet and piss on his rug. The goons explain that his wife owes them money and they want to get paid. These learn'd men figure out rather quickly that this is a case of mistaken identity. They meant to be at Millionaire Lebowski's house, not Underachiever Dude's place. Our hero, "call me Dude" Lebowski, figures that if he goes to the millionaire's house to explain the situation, he might be able to get a new rug, because honestly, it really held the room together. The Dude visits the rich Lebowski and after a quirky exchange, returns home with the satisfaction of a mission accomplished. But The Dude is quickly summoned back by Millionaire Lebowski, because the rich man's wife has been kidnapped, and the Dude may be the only one able to identify the goons as the same ones who flushed him down a toilet. The Big Lebowski reluctantly accepts getting involved in the ransom exchange, as long as it doesn't interfere with his bowling tournament. From here the Dude must unravel a mystery that becomes stranger with every passing day including attack marmots on Nihilist leashes, vaginal artists, iron-lunged screenwriters and a nymphomaniac Bunny.

Jeff Bridges as 'The Dude' Lebowski and John Goodman as unstable Vietnam vet Walter Sobchak single-handedly (double-handedly?) elevate the film to a grand state. The bowling alley dialogues between their characters and Steve Buscemi's "shut-the-fuck-up" Donny is beautiful beyond words. The Coen Brothers' meticulously cadenced script is one of their most impressive and is by far the main reason to watch the film, though the amazing fanfare for rival bowler Jesus Quintana (John Turturro) is one of the best introductory montages I've ever seen. It's also a nice surprise seeing a relatively thin Philip Seymour Hoffman in the role of aide/butler/manservant Brandt. 

The Big Lebowski is a quirky and fun kidnapping comedy whodunit with bowling, and one of the Coen Brothers staple films. What was the reason you haven't watched this again? Oh right, raised by wolves.

"You know when I think Coen Brothers, I think of me too..."
"You know when I think Coen Brothers, I think of me too..."
"Shut the Fuck up, Donny"

Performance: 9 Cinematography: 8 Script: 9 Plot: 8 Mood: 8

Overall Rating: 84% (Take a Bow...Ski)

Doing a modern-day Noir in the vein of the work of Raymond Chandler, author of novels The Big Sleep and Murder, My Sweet, screenwriter of Double Indemnity and Strangers on a Train - damn that's genius. I am ashamed for not having realized the Noir influence, and I'm thankful for 1001 Movies for telling me about it.

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First of all, the swearing Jesus site, hilarious. You can never go wrong with a Cohen bros. flick. The first time I saw Raising Arizona I knew to keep my eye on these guys. Interesting to note: the dialogue in The Big Lebowski was pretty much delivered exactly as written by the Cohens. Apparently they include all the pauses and hums and haws right in the script. This might suck from an acting perspective but I can't see anyone other than Bridges and Goodman making the characters so memorable and fun to watch. I agree with you about Flea and the cowboy narrator. Also about the cinematography and camera work, now I know what it would be like to be trapped inside a bowling ball rolling down the alley. I think my overall rating would be a little higher but I understand your rating scale and find it very refreshing. Keep it up. Now, "I'm just gonna go find a cash machine".

That's like, your opinion, man.

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