The Big Lebowski (1998)


Oh the Coen Brothers.

I feel the need to preface this review with my general thought about the Coen Brothers.  I understand their appeal, and they’ve made a few great films, but I think they get more credit than they deserve.  Fargo was great, and I’ll review it some time in the future, but some of their other films I’ve seen just didn’t make any sense to me.  They remade True Grit, a film I don’t think needed to be remade.  It’s one of those that seemed like it’d be beyond the pale to remake.  I didn’t care for Burn After Reading, and I may get No Country for Old Men when I watch it again.  Nonetheless, if studios keep paying them to make movies, they must be good at it, or at least have a wide enough appeal.

The Big Lebowski

Jeff Lebowski, or “The Dude,” gets caught up in a strange case of mistaken identity as two men attack him at his apartment and urinate on his rug.  The rug, of course, that “ties the whole room together.”  He confronts the real Jeffery Lebowski, the man the intruders were trying to extort money from.  He confronts the other Lebowski, and is sent on a whirlwind adventure as a courier, heist-man, baby daddy, slacker bowling enthusiast for the next hour and forty-five minutes.  He encounters nihilists, Lebowski’s conceptual artist daughter who wants the Dude to father her child, a porn producer, and a brat kid.  I’ve probably forgotten a few people but that was all that came to mind.

The fact that the Dude is essentially a slacker who has little to do in life, aside from bowling and drinking White Russians, plays into a certain segment of the population: the slacker, underachiever who is perfectly content there.

I get the sense that this movie may be better or at least more enjoyable if experienced either drunk or on drugs.  I don’t know, the appeal with a slackers mentality offered for me moments of pure genius, but that seemed more hit and miss.

As annoying as Walter was in this movie, I think he is as important in tying  the whole movie together as the Dude is.  John Goodman does a phenomenal job with this character.  Everything has to do with Vietnam, and instead of asking, “Am I right?” he instead asks, “Am I wrong?” when making a point.

Though he had a very limited role, Jesus (John Torturro) was entertaining and had even expressed interest in doing a spin-off film.

I  liked the times when Sam Elliott was on-screen.  His brief monologue at the end of the film was refreshingly honest and real.  The film was funny…at times, and I also didn’t like it when Donny died, but it was enjoyable to a certain degree.

This film has a significant cult following.  Lebowski Fest has been held every year since 2002.

The Guardian criticized this film, saying it was “a bunch of ideas shoveled into a bag and allowed to spill out at random.”  I tend to agree, but at the same time I recognize the merits and why The Big Lebowski has a devout following, of which I am not a part of.

The Big Lebowski is a film that is a part of our culture, and is considered one of the better comedies of the last 20 years or so, so its influence and presence can’t be denied.  With that in mind, I did not like this film.  It was too much of a random assortment of things with little direction, slow pacing at times, and I get the sense that I could watch it another dozen times and still not fully get it.  It appeals to some, and I am not one of that some.

My Rating: 2 out of 5 stars


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