The Big Lebowski (1998)

big lebowski movie poster the dude jeff bridges
9.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 10/10
Visuals: 9/10

Great cast and characters

So much is going on in the movie that it could even be more developed

Movie Info

Movie Name:  The Big Lebowski

Studio:  Working Titles Film

Genre(s):  Comedy

Release Date(s):  March 6, 1998

MPAA Rating:  R

big lebowski the dude toilet jeff bridges

You guys are ruining the Dude’s buzz

The Dude aka Jeff Lebowski (Jeff Bridges) has just suffered a tragedy.  His rug has been ruined by a couple of people looking for Jeff Lebowski aka the “Big” Lebowski (David Huddleston), and the Dude aims to get compensation.  With a rug in hand, everything seems to have been resolved when the Dude is roped back into finding the Big Lebowski’s young wife Bunny (Tara Reid) who seems to have been taken by a bunch of Nihilists led by Uli Kunkel (Peter Stormare).  With the Big Lebowski’s daughter Maude Lebowski (Julianne Moore) also interested in the exchange, and the Dude’s bowling friend Walter Sobchak (John Goodman) threatening to ruin the whole situation, the Dude’s mellow life suddenly finds itself in upheaval…and that just cannot happen.

big lebowski mark it zero walter gun john goodman

Mark it zero!

Written and directed by the Joel and Ethan Coen, The Big Lebowski is a mystery comedy.  The film was initially released to a poor box office reception and mixed reviews but over the years has gained popularity and a large cult following.  The movie was selected in 2014 for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.

I honestly didn’t love The Big Lebowski the first time I saw it.  I didn’t dislike it, but it didn’t measure up to my favorite Coen Brothers film Fargo (which was their previous release in 1996).  While I still prefer Fargo, The Big Lebowski is the type of film that grows on you, and it better with multiple viewings.

The story essentially takes a comedy and places within the dark and gritty world of a Raymond Chandler story (the Coens cite The Big Sleep as their inspiration).  The difference is in the stories of Philip Marlowe, Marlowe is actively trying to solve the crime and is getting bounced from one story to another (Jim Rockford of The Rockford Files had a similar style).  The Dude however is almost actively not trying to solve the case…he won’t even answer the phone when it could be urgent.  The lack of action provides much of the comedy and is the contradiction from a decent mystery filled with extreme characters.

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Jesus will return…that’s ironic

Jeff Bridges’ “Dude” really helped define Bridges’ second act in his acting career.  His “mellow” style has carried on to other movies even when the characters should be more anxious.  In addition to the Dude, almost every character in The Big Lebowski is fun and developed.  The uber artist Julianne Moore and her friend played by David Thewlis, the “You’re a loser” Big Lebowski by David Huddleston and his sniveling assistant Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ben Gazzara’s creepy porn producer, Tara Reid, and the Nihilists Peter Stormare, Torsten Voges, and Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers all serve as tormentors for the Dude.  Jon Polito’s role as Da Fino could be a bit bigger, but John Goodman’s cringe-worthy “good advice” giving Sobchak far outweighs Steve Buscemi’s suffering Donny.  John Turturro is a scene stealer as Jesus Quintana the pedophile bowler.  Even the small role of Sam Elliott as both the narrator and “the Stranger” adds a bigger epic feel to the picture.

big lebowski gutterballs dream julianne moore jeff bridges

Dream a little dream of me

The Big Lebowski is also aided by the great visuals of the Coens who always do good stuff in this neighborhood.  The movie features some great tripping dream sequences which are easily scene stealers, but the rest of the movie is also artfully crafted which can be overlooked due to the dreams.

The Big Lebowski is a very watchable movie.  It is fun and funny and loaded with nuances that can’t be picked up on one viewing.  The Coens have said that the plot is incidental (though it is still kind of fun) and that the movie really is about the characters.  Despite being almost twenty years old, a semi-sequel to the film is planned starring and directed by John Turturro in which his Jesus Quintana returns.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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