Directed By: Joel and Ethan Coen
Starring: Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Julianne Moore
Tag line: "Times like these call for a Big Lebowski"
Trivia: A lot of the Dude's clothes in the movie were Jeff Bridges's own clothes, including his Jellies sandals
I have to admit that my initial viewing of The Big Lebowski, which happened a couple years after its release, left me lukewarm. “It’s got its moments”, I thought to myself, “but isn’t anything spectacular”. A second watch revealed a little more, which I'm guessing I missed the first time around, and suddenly, I was laughing out loud. Now, with about a dozen viewings under my belt, I can say, without hesitation, that this is the funniest movie I have ever seen. The Big Lebowski is my all-time favorite comedy.
Jeffrey “The Dude” Lebowski (Bridges) is the victim of mistaken identity. A pair of thugs, believing he’s a famous millionaire who, quite coincidentally, is also named Jeffrey Lebowski (David Huddleston), break into The Dude’s house and demand payment for his wife’s outstanding debts. But The Dude has never been married, and tries to convince them they have the wrong guy. The two thugs eventually come to that very conclusion, yet not before one of them urinates on The Dude’s favorite living room rug. Spurred on by his best friend and bowling partner, Walter Sobchak (John Goodman), The Dude pays a visit to the millionaire Lebowski, whose wife Bunny (Tara Ried) caused all the trouble in the first place, and requests he replace the soiled rug. Instead, The Dude finds himself tangled up in a kidnapping incident when Bunny is abducted by some Nihilists, who want a million dollars in exchange for her safe return. Recruited by the ‘other’ Lebowski’s personal assistant, Brandt (Philip Seymour Hoffman), The Dude, accompanied by Walter, sets out deliver the ransom money and bring Mrs. Lebowski back alive. But when his good buddy starts taking control of the situation, it isn't long before The Dude is in some serious hot water.
The casting of Jeff Bridges as The Dude, a laid-back stoner with no job, was a stroke of genius. Bridges himself once said he was born to play The Dude, going so far as to admit he might have actually been the character had his life taken a few wrong turns. Bridges effectively maintains The Dude’s easygoing attitude throughout the movie, even when things come crashing down around him. As for the role of his best friend, Walter, it was tailor-made for John Goodman. The Coens had previously worked with Goodman on both Raising Arizona and Barton Fink, and were thus fully aware of what the actor could bring to a film. His Walter Sobchak is an angry man, the kind of guy who draws a loaded gun during a bowling match. He is the exact opposite of The Dude, and is also the reason The Dude gets into so much trouble. Walter certainly means well, but there’s no denying The Dude’s life would have been much quieter had he not told Walter about his wet rug. John Goodman is an actor who knows how to shake the comedy out of every scene, and he never fails to do so here.
Practically every sequence in The Big Lebowski is comedy gold, and the supporting cast (which includes Julianne Moore, Steve Buscemi, John Turturro, Sam Elliott and Ben Gazzara) is just about perfect. It may have taken a while to sink in, but now that it has, I’m hooked on The Big Lebowski. I love this movie!