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. 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 is yet another thoroughly entertaining foray into the strange and fascinating world ruled by Joel and Ethan Coen.
Main Cast & Crew:
Joel Coen - Director
Philip Seymour Hoffman
- Format: Blu-ray (New Box Art)
- Run Time: 117
- Color Format: Color
- UPC: 025192110306
- Genre: Comedy
- Rating: R (MPAA) (pervasive strong language, drug content, sexuality and brief violence)
- Release Date: August 1998
When hired goons mistake oafish, amiable bowling enthusiast Jeff "the Dude" Lebowski for their proper shakedown, eccentric millionaire the Big Lebowski, their error sets into motion a wacky chain of events that pull the Dude into a hilariously twisted mystery. The film is a high-key, fanciful farce with the same runaway-train comic sensibility as the Coens' RAISING ARIZONA--and a surreal musical number to boot.
Theatrical release: March 6, 1998. THE BIG LEBOWSKI features numerous references to the 1946 film THE BIG SLEEP, directed by Howard Hawks and starring Humphrey Bogart as a man who gets involved in a similarly chaotic mystery. Bob Dylan performs "The Man in Me," the song played over the opening credits; Shawn Colvin performs "Viva Las Vegas" over the closing credits. Other artists whose songs appear in the film include Townes Van Zandt, Elvis Costello, Nina Simone, Yma Sumac, and Kenny Rogers. The Dude is based partly on real-life producer Jeff Dowd. The Jackie Treehorn film clip shown in the film is called LOGJAMMIN'; real-life porn star Asia Carrera plays the lead role in the fake film. Shooting took almost 12 weeks, finishing in April 1997. BRANDED, the television show that Arthur Digby Sellers is credited with writing in the film, was a TV Western series that starred Chuck Connors; the Dude thinks it starred Mike Connors, of MANNIX fame. "I suppose there's a side of me that, had I not been an actor, might have lived his life like the Dude," Jeff Bridges said about the role he played in the film. "All those half-finished sentences, all those ers and ums and ehs, they're all scripted in. You can't be relaxed about it. The dialogue is like music. All the characters have their own score and it takes practice and timing to get it right. You can't slack off," Steve Buscemi said about the screenplay. John Turturro's role was cut out of the edited television version, possibly because almost everything he says includes curses. Rock musicians Aimee Mann and Flea (of the Red Hot Chili Peppers) appear as members of the Nihilists. Country rock musician Jimmie Dale Gilmore plays Smokey, one of Walter's bowling opponents. One of the reasons why bowling was chosen as the centerpiece of the film, Joel Coen told the Boston Phoenix, was that "it's the only thing that calls itself a sport where you can smoke and drink beer." The film screened at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival on March 5, 1998.
"...The range of acting turns is rich....Best of all, in a memorably unctuous cameo, is Philip Seymour Hoffman...the best character-actor find in years..." - 05/01/1998 Sight and Sound, p.38-42
"...The Coen brothers, those far-out FARGO guys, cover everything with eye-popping panache..." 3 1/2 out of 4 Stars - 04/03/1998 USA Today, p.5E
"...Mr. Bridges finds a role so fit for him that he seems never to have been anywhere else. Watch this performance to see shambling executed with nonchalant grace and a seemingly out-to-lunch character played with fine comic flair..." - 03/06/1998 New York Times, p.E31
"...Joel and Ethan Coen have crafted another shrewdly ironic valentine to Americana with this hilarious tale..." - 03/01/1998 Premiere, p.17
"...The Coens are able to create wickedly funny eccentrics and possess the ability to energize certain actors to inhabit them completely..." - 03/06/1998 Los Angeles Times, p.C1
"...Genial....It's weirdly engaging, like its hero..." - 03/06/1998 Chicago Sun-Times, p.37
"...A masterpiece of anti-storytelling..." - 05/23/2003 Entertainment Weekly, p.35
Ranked #7 in Rolling Stone's "Top 25 DVDs Of 2005' -- "[T]he prize in this Coen Brothers 1998 goodie is still Jeff Bridges..." - 12/01/2005 Rolling Stone, p.92
5 stars out of 5 -- "LEBOWSKI sees the Coens embark on a delirious joyride through the great Sin City itself, executing some audacious hair-pin turns through the conventions of noir along the way." - 05/01/2006 Uncut, p.148
4 stars out of 5 -- "[W]hat makes the Coens' seventh film so inexhaustibly re-watchable is its oddball range of characters so gonzo, so heroically grotesque as to be the stuff of the greatest stoner-comic book never written." - 06/01/2006 Total Film, p.132
"Joel and Ethan Coen's now-classic comedy is an absurdist neonoir film about mistaken identity....[A] big sweet teddy bear of an entertainment..." - 12/24/2010 Wall Street Journal