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.
on 11 March 2012
The Coen brothers `The Big Lebowski' is a bona-fide modern cult classic, a slacker epic that benefits from colourful charcterisation, a host of brilliant performances, superb casting and one of the most quotable scripts in movie history. Set during the time of the first Gulf War, the excellent Jeff Bridges plays Jeffrey `The Dude' Lebowski, an ageing, unemployed pot smoking slacker with a penchant for white Russians, who becomes embroiled in a kidnapping case after his identity is mistaken for that of a local millionaire with the same name, a man whose missing wife owes money to Pornographers. The reluctant and very lazy Dude is tasked by his namesake to act as a courier to hand off the ransom money to her captors, but is really only interested in compensation from the men who urinated on his living-room rug or going bowling with his friends Walter (John Goodman), a Jewish convert war veteran obsessed with Vietnam, and the placid Donny (Steve Buscemi), who is always several steps behind the conversation. All three actors are superb and the (F-word strewn) banter and rapport between them is often so genuine that you feel as if you are eavesdropping in on their conversation from the next lane. Indeed, all of the central performances are pitch perfect, but the minor characters are equally as good, particularly John Turtoro as fellow bowler Jesus Quintana, a Hispanic, purple jump-suit clad egomaniac and Phillip Seymour Hoffman as the millionaire Lebowski's decorous personal assistant.
The dude is ultimately an unwilling hero, a man whose focus is on minding his own business and his own problems. At a time when bombs are flying and everyone is running about in a frenzy, all the Dude wants is to take it easy. The blackly comic, sometimes odd-ball but always sharply witty and bitingly clever scenarios that make up TBL may seem like a bit of a disjointed mess on first viewing but is actually a meticulously staged string of events which reflect the Dudes increasing confusion and frustration and his desire to return to the simple life. This is undoubtedly a film that gets better and better with each repeat viewing and those who have criticised the film for a meandering plot and a lack of coherent storytelling may have completely missed the point.
The blu-ray edition is nicely presented in a digibook case with a 24 page booklet and contains a DVD and digital copy. The transfer to blu-ray is not perfect, but still a significant improvement on DVD quality and will certainly satisfy fans of the movie. Colours are bright, particularly with respect to those scenes that take place within the bowling alley, but are sharp and lifelike. Fine details are presented with great clarity for the most part, though the night-time scenes seem a little too soft and gritty. Although this is very much a dialogue driven movie, background sound effects are much better defined with the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Track. There are a host of extras for fans to get their teeth into, with about 90 minutes of featurettes and an interactive map of the locations in the film.
The Big Lebowski is hilarious. There are few films that have made me laugh so much on first viewing. There are no other films that have made me laugh so much more on repeat viewings.
The film starts with a rambling narrative that sets the tone for the labyrinthine but secondary plot. The mystery that underpins the film is cleverly constructed and lends a familiar Coen Brother's noir edge. This in itself would make for a good movie. However, the script is populated with engaging, believable, flawed, quirky and laugh out loud funny characters who take centre stage. The characters elevate the film to comedic greatness.
John Goodman's portrayal of Walter has always stood out for me. The character is so stupid, self absorbed and self assured and he is put in a series of ridiculous situations that bring out the worst in him to comic effect. Jeff Bridge's role as the Dude remains my favourite performance of his and he seems so natural in the part. The combination of The Dude's consummately laid back attitude and Walter's military informed approach makes for a fine pairing. The film builds it's own in-jokes slowly and carefully with characters repeating phrases they have heard and I think this mechanism is partly to credit for the film's immense re-watch value. The Coen Brother's have made several fantastic films but this remains my favourite.
The Big Lebowski is a work of comic genius; it's one of the funniest movies I've ever seen. Jeff Bridges is hilarious as "the Dude," a pretty simple guy whose life goes all kinds of topsy-turvy after he's mistaken for someone else with the same name – Jeffrey Lebowski. John Goodman is hilarious as his best friend Walter Sobchak, a boisterous Vietnam vet with a quick temper and a pathological need to jump in and take decisive action all the time, and Steve Buscemi is his usual entertaining self as the only reasonably sane person in the entire film. The Big Lebowski is really all about dialogue and delivery. The script is just wickedly funny from start to finish, but it is Bridges' laid-back delivery that really makes the comic engine go, with all kinds of help from John Goodman.
The Dude comes home one night, only to find himself thrown face-down in the toilet and otherwise accosted by two chaps demanding money to pay off his wife's debts. He finally manages to convince the guys that he is not the Jeffrey Lebowski they are looking for – but not before one of the jokers gives his rug a golden shower. The Dude is not at all happy about this, as "that rug really tied the room together." After consulting with his bowling partners (the Dude spends a lot of time bowling), he decides to find the other, obviously rich Lebowski and ask him to reimburse him for the rug. Soon thereafter, the Big Lebowski calls him in and asks him to serve as the courier for a money drop to some guys who kidnapped his pretty young wife Bunny (Tara Reid). That's when all the trouble really starts. The Dude's soon mixed up with all sorts of crazy people (including a gang of nihilists), while Walter manages to get him deeper and deeper into a lot of trouble he never wanted in the first place. There are indeed lots of strands in the Dude's head as the whole story takes a series of odd twists and turns, each of them funnier than the last. And he's got to get ready for the big semifinals of bowling league play, to boot – Walter is very, very dedicated to the bowling league games. It's almost impossible to give a good overview of the plot, and I wouldn't want to do so anyway, as you really have to experience it all for yourself.
You've got to love the Dude. He's just a lazy slacker who wanted his good, clean rug back, and then all this crazy stuff happened to him. Rest easy, though, knowing that "the Dude abides." Sometimes, that's about all you can do in this crazy world. I should mention that the film more than earns its R rating for profanity, as about every third word anyone says is a curse word – so if that kind of thing bothers you, you may be "out of your element" here. I am quite confident, though, that most viewers will laugh themselves silly watching this movie and will want to keep on watching it over and over again. The Coen Brothers hit a grand slam with this one.
on 31 October 2007
What really ties a movie together? Taut direction, terrific cast, well-drawn characterization, rambling narrative, immortal one-liners, offbeat plot twists, impeccable cinematography, impressive camerawork or captivating soundtrack?..... "The Big Lebowski" is rare kind of picture which blends all these elements together.
"Lebowski" is one of the typical Coen Brothers films that you will either love or hate, there is very little middle ground. Not only one of the most re-watchable movie you will ever see; but also, along with "O Brother, Where Art Thou?", it ranks as the best off-the-wall comedy brothers have made so far.
For a film about absolutely nothing, "The Big Lebowski" has everything. Yes it is weird, wildly uneven and out of reality as its protagonist: "The Dude", unmotivated, unemployed, apathetic and unapologetic L.A. slacker who wants nothing more than to bowl, to sip on White Russian, and to puff on joints now and then. The Dude, totally stuck in the 1970s counterculture, becomes the victim of mistaken identity. He eventually finds himself in the middle of a bizarre kidnapping and ransom case. As the plot unwinds, the mystery of kidnapping becomes secondary, and all attention is drawn into the quirky characters and wacky circumstances encountered by "The Dude" in his odyssey.
I credit most of the film's energy to the chemistry, especially polar opposition between the Dude and his sidekick Walter. Against the Dude's mellow, take-it-easy style, Walter is ever-pragmatic, constantly-overreacting and gun-toting character who always makes the wrong assumptions and ends up spoiling everything. Walter's misconceptions and blunders infuriate the Dude all the time and all these situations are a laugh riot.
Last word: Like so many of Coen Brother's films, there is much more going underneath. There are lots of subtle and clever details conveying some ironical social and political messages. "Lebowski" is well-filmed and well-acted commentary on the modern social condition, but this is the kind of movie it takes multiple viewings to fully appreciate and it's worth all the investment.
on 11 January 2007
...by a country mile!
The Coen brothers at their incredible best... pure genius
Many lifetime performances by an all-star line-up, but in particular, Jeff Bridges is just awesome... he IS the dude!
The characters are so completely engrossing that you don't care about the plot? (all the dude ever wanted was his rug back!). This film just rolls along through a sequence of brilliant, surreal situations and sub-plots, delivering a side-splitting dialogue and string of classic one-liners
Unless you're missing your funny bone you'll be in stitches time after time after time... buy it, watch it, roll around on the floor, watch it again, roll around some more, spread the word!
"Mr Treehorn treats objects like women man!"
It's hard to pick out one favorite line of dialogue in particular for two reasons. One-almost everything said in this film is downright hilarious. And Two-the F word is spoken 281 times so there's not many sentences that don't contain it. 144 sentences also end in 'man'. I also like how the characters unintentionally use each other's repeating catchphrases.
Jeff 'The Dude' Lebowski is a man living a minimalistic existence. He has no job, no ambitions and no worries. His days, be they weekdays or weekends, are spent bowling, driving around or having the occasional acid flashback. His pals are Walter Sobchak, a security expert and half-crazed Vietnam vet and Donny, a humble, mousy little man who is left out of almost every conversation.
The Dude is happy with his easy-going life of nothingness until two thugs ambush him in his house believing him to the OTHER Jeff 'The Big' Lebowski, the millionaire with a trouble-making wife who owes money all over town. These thugs are none too happy with their dumb error and re-assert themselves by peeing on The Dude's rug.
This very much displeases The Dude as this rug really tied the room together and since he cannot track down the 'Chinaman' thug responsible he decides to take it out of the Big Lebowski, as it's now HIM who owes a new rug. The Dude is welcomed into the Big Lebowski's mansion by Brandt the butler, a man so appallingly sycophantic he'd make Weylon Smither's look bad. But his millionaire namesake is not so ready and willing to give hand-outs and basically tells The Dude to get lost.
At this point things become quite complicated as a bunch of ex-pop star Nihilist thugs, a powerful pornographer, a dejected feminist daughter, a Brother Seamus (NOT an Irish Monk), a joyriding teenager, a revolting pederast champion bowler, Saddam Hussein, a mysterious cowboy and a doctor who is insistent on him removing his shorts all make The Dude's life suddenly a helluva lot more interesting. The plot thickens and thickens and the dude is dragged to dozens of different places across LA, going from limo to limo, never too far from a white Russian or a doobie.
There are zillions of idiosyncrasies in this film that keeps it new and interesting every time you watch it. Every scene and every line of dialogue is so memorable that, like me, you'll be acting the film out for years. Even on a 100th viewing you'll notice dramatic ironies, character arcs and ingenious wordplay that went right over your head before.
The acting is superb. I am a fan of Jeff Bridges but he completely disappears in this film. He truly BECOMES The Dude and shows little of his recognizable self. John Goodman, in probably the most under-rated role of his career, is the world's angriest man. Bringing frustration and smart-ass arrogance to every scene (though he's almost always right). Set well over a decade after 'nam (and during the first Gulf conflict) Walter seems to be suffering from perpetual, ever-lasting post-traumatic stress syndrome as he blows up in any situation. Take a look at his 'minor' confrontation with Smokey for example.
It's not about plot, or even characters. It's about a certain moment in time, the early 90s. And the definitive man of that time was the Dude. The rug-peeing just happened to occur simultaneously.
The Blu Ray looks great in 1.85:1 1080p with DTS HD-MA 5.1 sound and loads of extras. It comes in a Digi-Book but since it's twice as thick as their US counterparts (as is the rule in the UK for some dumb reason) it looks and feels...wrong. I'm not happy about it. But an otherwise solid purchase.
on 15 February 2006
I can only confirm what the others have already posted: this is an excellent movie, deeply imbued with friendship, love and humanity, featuring an armada of the most eccentric characters you will ever see on screen, and all this with such a delicate and non-obtrusive delivery that will be hard to match. I am not a big movie fan but this one just got me addicted and I keep on watching it every now and then, always discovering something new in it.
But a word of warning. Just as it is the case with a really good CD, you will probably not get the most out of it when you are watching it first. When I saw it first I thought, well, it was an OK movie, but nothing else. Two years later, when me and a few friends had absolutely nothing to do, we decided to watch it again (which is very unusual of me, to watch a movie for a second time), and, well, I got hooked on it, and every time I see it I just want to watch it again to discover and rediscover its hidden merits. You know when you like a CD so much it hardly leaves they CD tray - well, it's sort of the same thing with this movie. After a while you will certainly get bored with it, but until then (and it won't happen for a while), this is top notch entertainment.
on 22 November 2001
Truly one the greatest comedies ever made. A superbly original plot along with one of the funniest scripts film has ever produced "The Big Lebowski" has the best subtle humour (hence the lack of major box office success) of any movie and will keep you laughing every single time you see it.
On a par with Fear and Loathing... the characters in the film are so brilliantly portrayed you'd almost believe you were watching a documentary. Jeff Bridges is highly believable as The Dude, his Dudeness, or El Duderino, and John Goodman gives the performance of a lifetime and makes the character of Walter into a true great, where it could have so easily gone wrong.
A must see for any fan of laughing, if you don't find this funny then you have some serious personality issues.
on 26 August 2008
Jeff Bridges (The fabulous baker boys) stars as the Dude Lebowski, who is mistaken for another Lebowski, which ultimately leaves his rug ruined.
Taking this up with the Big Lebowski, the Dude is sent on a mission to recover his kidnapped wife.
The Big Lebowski is one of the Coen brother's finest creations by being different, funny and entertaining all the way through with smart direction and acting.
You will have never seen anything like this before as Jeff Bridges gives an unbelievable performance as The Dude, an unemployed bum who likes white Russians and bowling who seeks a very bizarre retribution in his ruined rug.
The ideology of the rug and the whole obsessive nature behind it is very funny, as is Bridges in a very weird character, which is loveable for being so hip, and relaxed.
Though his character can be extremely rude and annoying, John Goodman (Roseanne) plays Walter extremely well and makes an interesting paring alongside the Dude.
The plot is excellent and very consistent. Very character driven, The Big Lebowski packs in plenty of laughs along the way with some breathtaking twists and turns and strong ideologies to keep it entertaining.
One particular factor which helped the film along, was the beautifully directed bowling scene fantasies, so bizarre and unique that the film is a must watch just for these couple of moments of pure genius. They are so out of place in the film, so wacky that it is pure amazement. Forget J.D's fantasies in Scrubs, we have the funniest and wackiest fantasies right here in a completely twisting and turning storyline.
Come the end of the film, you may have lost your way a bit as to what happens with all the money dealings and who all the characters were and so forth, but you will definitely not mind watching again, as you will have seen the most coolest Dude in the history of cinema in a very finely directed comedy drama.