Film review: The Big Lebowski (1998), directed by Joel Coen and Etan Coen
The Dude abides … at #133 on IMDb’s Top 250 list, in a Coen Brothers story about a very laid back man known to everyone as “The Dude” (Jeff Bridges), real name Jeffrey Lebowski, whose rug gets stolen when he’s mistaken for another Jeffrey “The Big” Lebowski (David Huddleston), a millionaire.
The Dude tries to get his beloved rug back (because “it really tied the room together”) and gets drawn into a kidnapping plot. Bunny Lebowski (Tara Reid), Big Lebowski’s considerably younger wife, has been kidnapped and maybe the Dude can help get her back.
Maybe he can, if he can fit it in between his White Russian drinks and bowling with pals: the unassuming Donny (Steve Buscemi) and tough guy Vietnam veteran Walter Sobchak (John Goodman); and bowling arch enemy Jesus (John Turturro) … and if Big Lebowski’s daughter Maude (Julianne Moore) will let him …
Also stars Philip Seymour Hoffman as Big Lebowski’s assistant Brandt, Sam Elliott as “the Stranger” (the enigmatic narrator), my fellow Swede Peter Stormare as Uli Kunkel or “Karl Hungus”, and David Thewlis as Maude Lebowski’s camp aide Knox Harrington.
It’s a bizarre mix of characters – from porn directors to German electropop Nihilists, stoners and pederasts, and ultrafeminists. And the even stranger thing is that it really darn well works. It’s bizarre and absurd, yes, but not in a way that makes you scratch your head and wonder why the hell you’re wasting your time watching it. It’s actually pretty funny, and it does have a plot.
Whether or not you agree with the laid-back attitude of the Dude doesn’t really matter. (Although … Jeff Bridges is a handsome man, it has to be said, even if he’s in shorts, sandals and a big cardigan.) We’re on for a peculiar ride of nonsense, and being amused by it. I like this film, I really do. It’s full of screwball surprises, and a good dose of black humour, as well – the “ash scene” (if you’ve seen it, you know the one) is particularly brilliant.
The Big Lebowski is a cult film I can watch many times and not get tired of. 4 out of 5 Nihilists.