The Big Lebowski
, a casually amusing follow-up from the prolifically inventive Coen brothers (Ethan and Joel), seems like a bit of a lark and the result was a box-office disappointment. It's lazy plot is part of its laidback charm. After all, how many movies can claim as their hero a pot-bellied, pot-smoking loser named Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski (Jeff Bridges) who spends most of his time bowling and getting stoned? And where else could you find a hair-netted Latino bowler named Jesus (John Turturro) who sports dazzling purple footgear, or an erotic artist (Julianne Moore) whose creativity consists of covering her naked body in paint, flying through the air in a leather harness, and splatting herself against a giant canvas? Who else but the Coens would think of showing you a camera view from inside the holes of a bowling ball, or an elaborate Busby Berkely-styled musical dream sequence involving a Viking goddess and giant bowling pins?
The plot--which finds Lebowski involved in a kidnapping scheme after he's mistaken for a rich guy with the same name--is almost beside the point. What counts here is a steady cascade of hilarious dialogue, great work from Coen regulars John Goodman and Steve Buscemi, and the kind of cinematic ingenuity that puts the Coens in a class all their own. --Jeff Shannon
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
I. 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 the acting is weirdly stellar. The Big Lebowski
I is yet another thoroughly entertaining foray into the strange and fascinating world ruled by Joel and Ethan Coen.