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All that heaven allows...and Bowling
on 5 September 2005
I've read that comedy is the most difficult genre to get right and probably the most difficult acting job to get laughs from, but watching The Big Lebowski, the Coens and every one of the actors involved make it all look so easy. This film's full of artists at the top of their game.
TBL's got everything, character acting, over the top character-vignettes, (see John Turturro's purple-clad bowling saviour), slapstick (John Goodman's turn as a homicidal ex-vietnam-obsessed marine who's other obsessions include bowling and his ex Cynthia's religion to which he's converted and doggedly won't now give up), terrific set pieces, mistaken identity, long-lost children, dreadful corny porn, mad feminists, its central character's steadily increasing confusion, and the most bewildering, triumphant and frequent use of the word f**k with its derivations, since Kevin Smith first put fingers to word-processor in New Jersey. Don't let the profanity put you off. Just treat those words as coughs or verbal shuffles as the characters strain to think their way out of the particular 'fine mess' they've found themselves in at that point in the film.
Make no mistake, this is a really clever piece of writing that you won't be able to take-in properly in just one viewing or even two, and with each viewing it just gets better. Clever ideas, combine with clever language and even situation comedy.
In the situation comedy stakes, check out the Dude trying to explain to the police why he's worried about a brief case that had been in his POS car, both just stolen, and his and Goodman's furiously inept attempts to interrogate the boy who stole the car while the adolescent's father lies prostrate in an iron lung that's gassing away in the background. After respectfully complimenting the father's TV writing they then proceed to scream at the young offender: one of the most obtuse, dense, zoned-out, morons I've ever seen on screen...if the camera'd held his face any longer, we'd have seen a line of dribble try to escape and then run for it, from the side of his mouth.
Its situations seem absolutely ridiculous, but what happens during them emerges directly from the characters, so everything works, everything. How often can this be said about movies we've seen? Even those with Bowling in them?
While I realise that TBL suits a certain sense of humour and that many won't see the merits in its succulent details that I've come to love, just watch it with an open mind, in one long sitting and then watch it again.
Yeah, I think its brilliant, but that's just like my opinion ...Man.