The Big Lebowski–Big Fun

04 Jun

Once again the Coen brothers produce an outrageous movie: The Big Lebowski.  The movie is cast flawlessly for the unique characters appearing on the silver screen.  Sam Elliot narrates certain parts of the move but the “big three” actors John Goodman, Jeff Bridges, and Steve Buscemi in each of their roles have a certain je ne sais quoi about them that is lacking in most dark comedies.  Goodman’s portrayal of Walter, the Vietnam vet with a short fuse is a riot.  Jeff Bridges takes a break from his customary serious persona to portray The Dude, a character who  is quite possibly the laziest [person] in Los Angeles county and Steve Buscemi is as entertaining as ever in his depiction of Donny, the guy who rarely speaks.  The cameo by John Turturro as “the Jesus,” king of the bowling alley, puts the movie over the top.

The Coen brothers created an odd array of marginalized characters that fall ass-backwards into center of an improbable situation.  The Dude is an unlikely hero living in the city of Los Angeles who becomes embroiled in a dilatant’s kidnapping.  Be advised that The Big Lebowski is not your average “zany” kidnapper comedy thrust upon us a thousand times before. The Coen brothers take a fresh look at this old tired story.  The story they have created is intriguing and entertaining, while the unique characters and subtle (but hilarious) dialog set the movie apart.

Although Bridges and Buscemi do an exceptional job of becoming their characters, Goodman steals the show in my opinion.  An early scene, for instance, involves a conversation about The Dude’s urine stained rug; it becomes clear that Walter is losing his mind.  In the early part of the conversation Goodman puts on a stone face to show that Walter is steadfastly tied to his position.  The Dude begins to agitate Walter as the conversation about the rug continues.  As Walter becomes more and more frantic he starts to furrow his brow, leaning forward when talking and turning increasingly redder.  As Goodman continues, his speaking becomes more staccato and flustered.  When The Dude refers to one of his attackers as “the China man,” Walter continues on his tirade then for a moment quietly addresses The Dude’s politically incorrect statement.  Changing from this erratic manner of speaking to the more politically correct and toned down discussion clearly shows that Walter is carrying around some serious baggage leading to sudden mood swings and a short fuse as he returns to his rant quickly.  Not long after his conversation with The Dude about the rug, Walter pulls a gun on a bowling league opponent for crossing the line and then trying to score 8 points because “nobody respects the rules anymore.”

The movie starts in a bowling alley where Donny, Walter, and The Dude are sitting at their lane discussing a mistaken attack on The Dude by some hired thugs who urinated on his rug.  The Dude is approaching the situation in a lackadaisical way but is by no means your average confused old stoner.  Bridge’s expressions during this scene show that The Dude is actually quite anxious about the loss of the rug “which really tied the room together.”  This brain trust concludes that since these thugs were after another wealthy person named Lebowski, The Dude should be compensated by him for the rug.  Thus the adventure begins.

On a side note, A.N., a friend of mine, found out I was reviewing the Big Lebowski, she said that the first time she watched it she didn’t like it, “the movie had been over hyped and I was expecting something that was overtly funny.”  When she sat down to watch it again and actually paid attention to the subtle (and not so subtle) humor she “loved it.”  We continued our conversation trying to decide which clips to post and were overwhelmed by choices.  Knowing we had to narrow it down, as you can see, these are the ones we thought of.

You would be a fool not to watch this movie.


Posted by on June 4, 2010 in Movie Reviews


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

19 responses to “The Big Lebowski–Big Fun

  1. Bonnie

    June 5, 2010 at 6:06 am

    I was going to correct your grammar, when it occurred to me that perhaps in this particular case, Walter loosing his mind is much the same as Walter losing his mind…


    • jpfmovies

      June 5, 2010 at 11:35 am

      Everyone is a smart ass.


      • Bonnie

        June 5, 2010 at 9:01 pm

        Especially you!! :-)


  2. Silver Emulsion

    June 5, 2010 at 6:40 am

    I remember seeing this on the night it opened and knowing afterward that it was instantly one of my favorite movies. It’s been twelve years and it’s still up there. Great movie. It’s interesting to note that it didn’t do well at all when it first came out, but it gained this huge cult following upon video release.


    • jpfmovies

      June 5, 2010 at 11:45 am

      Silver–I had no idea that movie did poorly at the theater I’m glad you told me. I rarely go out to see a movie instead opting to see them at my place. Maybe I am missing the obvious, but there seems to a palpable trend that the greatest movies (at least in my mind) never seem to do well at the box office. Since I don’t go out into the “real world” to see the silver screen, I usually assume that they did well in the box office. Perhaps I’ll begin to track this phenomenon a little more closely and make those results the subject of another posting. Nice work.


  3. dr h

    June 7, 2010 at 2:12 pm

    Which brings us to the obvious question. Why are off beat films failing at the box office. Personally I think peoples taste has been corrupted by popcorn flicks.


    • jpfmovies

      June 7, 2010 at 2:23 pm

      I could not agree with you more, I think popcorn flicks is being generous to to the “block busters” of today. It is too bad that Hollywood producers and directors don’t have the guts to make something even remotely outside today’s current formula. Future movie lovers will look back on this age of cinema and shake their heads at the moronic content and predictable action scenes of today’s mainstream movies.


    • Jude

      June 18, 2010 at 7:22 pm

      Dude, what I think is that off-beat people have always had better taste in films, but we constitute the minority of the movie-viewing public. Maybe that’s cynical but what can you do.

      Kudos on the great Big Lebowski review!! But you forgot to mention that the greatest thing about this movie is the Dude. Man is that guy laid back. Awesome.


      • jpfmovies

        June 18, 2010 at 11:23 pm

        Jude it is been quite some time since you agreed to write a review on blade runner the readers are getting a little restless.


  4. dr h

    June 7, 2010 at 4:37 pm

    Its a rose for all ages, the defining movie by the Coen bros.


  5. dr h

    June 7, 2010 at 4:43 pm

    Speaking of popcorn, do you that the major sorce of revenue for the movieplex is the concession stand although this term by itself is a misnomer since there is no concession in sight.It should be replaced by a more suitable term like the rip off stand.


    • jpfmovies

      June 7, 2010 at 5:03 pm

      Check out the latest post I found a great article on the business of movie theaters and it partially explains why we have such bad movies today.


  6. Uncle Jasper

    June 21, 2010 at 1:03 am

    Great write up. This is definitely a cult film worthy of its rabid following. There really has been nothing like it before or since. I remember dragging my wife around Venice Beach in search of the actual house used as the Dude’s place in the movie.


  7. dangerousmeredith

    September 4, 2010 at 6:48 pm

    I simply love this movie.


    • jpfmovies

      September 4, 2010 at 9:32 pm

      What is not to love–as to Dr. H. you can tell him to shove it up his ass if you want to.


      • dangerousmeredith

        September 6, 2010 at 10:17 pm

        ahhh but I don’t. nothing but warm and fuzzy vibes towards Dr h


        • jpfmovies

          September 7, 2010 at 5:03 pm

          Horse Sh%t don’t be afraid to take him on. I welcome spirited debates!



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