Posted by: ckckred | March 22, 2013

The Big Lebowski

The Big Lebowski is the Coens' finest film

The Big Lebowski is the Coens’ finest film

Since I first saw Raising Arizona, I have been a huge fan of Joel and Ethan Coen.  In my opinion, they are two of the finest directors not just today but of all time.  From Miller’s Crossing to No Country For Old Men I have loved and praised their work.

However, there has always been a movie by them that I somehow haven’t seen: The Big Lebowski.  I never had a good or reasonable excuse to tell anyone why I have not watched it, something that I have been rather embarrassed about.  So on last Thursday (which was, coincidently, during the film’s 15th anniversary), I finally saw the film with lofty expectations.

The Big Lebowski did not disappoint.  If anything, I would argue it is the Coen brothers’ best movie, topping Fargo and even No Country For Old Men.  It may just the best and funniest comedy of all time, and this is coming from a pair of directors who have made many great comedies.

The Big Lebowski is about a slacker named Jeffery Lebowski (Jeff Bridges), who calls himself the “Dude.”  The narrator describes him to be the laziest man of Las Angeles, which “also makes him possibly the laziest man in the world.”  The Dude mostly spends his time getting stoned and bowling.  But after one night when two men break into the Dude’s house and pee on his rug, he gets involved into a ransom case involving another Jeff Lebowski (David Huddleston), a millionaire whose trophy wife Bunny (Tara Reid) has been kidnapped.  As the Dude gets entangled in this plight, he meets German nihilists, erotic artists, and adult filmmakers.  With the help of his best friend Walter Sobchak (John Goodman), the Dude tries to solve this case and get a new rug.

The plot of The Big Lebowski maybe difficult to comprehend, but that’s the beauty of the film.  After the success of Fargo, a rather simple story of violence, Joel and Ethan Coen took what seemed like an average stoner comedy and added wit and sophistication to it.  Perhaps multiple viewings of The Big Lebowski will help me uncover more clue of the plot.  I detected hints of satire and subtle mentions of the invasion of Iraq back in the early 90s.  The Coens create a complex story full of twists and turns and the enjoyability never ends.

Like many of the Coen brothers’ other movies, most notably Raising Arizona, The Big Lebowski is full of oddball and eccentric characters.  The Dude is a hippie who still lives in the 60s and daydreams the weirdest fantasies (in one of the movie’s best scenes the Dude imagines himself in a bowling alley run by Saddam Hussein filled with dancers wearing hats resembling bowling pins).  Walter, perfectly played by John Goodman, is an angry Vietnam veteran who constantly reminds people about his service (he also converted to Judaism after marrying his wife who later divorced him and has a strong personal view on that as well).  Julianne Moore, who is one of my favorite actresses, plays Lebowski’s daughter and creates artwork by flinging herself naked covered and paint and also flings with the Dude.  And Steve Buscemi’s character Donny is a different role Buscemi has regularly played in Coen brothers’ movies, with a smaller part but still has some great scenes, most notably with Walter.  And John Turturro steals scenes as Jesus, a fellow bowler who cleans his bowling balls the funniest way imaginable and is also a sex-offender.

The Coens’ style of filmmaking is almost unlike any other directors (the offbeat characters and humor could be attributed to David Lynch).  They’ve taken on all sorts of genres with great success.  The Big Lebowski has many of the Coens’ trademarks (I discussed the characters before), and they even dabble in surrealism in a couple of scenes.  What’s really fascinating is their impeccable cinematography done by Roger Deakins.  If Fargo’s camerawork looked like an endless field of snow and NCFOM’s evoked the hot plains of Texas, The Big Lebowski’s reflects that of film-noir with its flashy colors and flair. The brothers made use of a camera connected to a remote controlled car to film bowling scenes and even managed to make a point of view shot from inside a bowling ball.

A rousing success, this takes the place of No Country For Old Men as my favorite Coen brothers’ movie and has immediately become one of my favorite comedies of all time.

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Responses

  1. Wow I guess I have to see this then, if it’s that funny. Nice review.

    • Thanks! If you like the Coens, you’ll love this. I feel like seeing it again now.

  2. Excellent post, really makes me want to watch the film again.

    • Thanks! The Coens are great directors.

  3. Pretty much a perfect film! Good write up man 🙂

    • Thanks! It is a perfect film. I loved every single second of the film.

  4. Great film great write up buddy! 😀

    • Thanks! The Coen brothers really know how to make great comedies.

  5. Great review and glad you liked, it’s a brilliant, brilliant film. Of their films I’ve seen, it’s a toss up between this and Old Country.

    • This is probably my favorite by them, with NCFOM a close second and Fargo at third. It is a brilliant movie and it exceeded my very high expectations.

  6. I’ve said previously it is the best comedy I have ever seen. It is hard to compare comedies and dramas so I have to say it is a tie with it and NCFOM. Though Fargo and so many Coen films are amazing. You might want to check out one of their lesser known films, A Serious Man, for an even different type of Coen movie than the others.

    Glad to hear you finally saw it. It is one of the most often-quoted films I know of…I love the Nihilists for example: “We are Nihilists; we believe in nothing,” which is itself a belief so ironically they must, logically speaking, have one belief lol!

    • The Coen brothers are pretty great. I’d give this a slight edge over NCFOM, though I love all of their films. A Serious Man’s a great one as well, and I’ve been trying to see some of their smaller movies like Blood Simple. Thanks for commenting.

  7. Very nice review! Well put praise. I still like “No Country” better but as you said, this is the Coen’s so it’s gonna be good!

    • Thanks! I think I might give this a slight edge over NCFOM, but it’s great. I don’t think I’ve seen a single movie by the Coens I haven’t liked.

      • I’m with ya. Talk about brilliant filmmakers!

  8. I have very little excuse for never seeing this too. But you like it better than No Country, my favorite film of all-time!? Now that makes me want to see it!

    • I think I’d give this a slight edge over NCFOM, though both are great. This has a lot of the Coens’ regular trademarks and I hope you see it soon, it’s a great movie. Thanks for commenting.

  9. Great write-up of my favourite movie, man. This is just class and gets better with every viewing. There’s an abundance of detail to be found in every single scene. Glad to hear you enjoyed it.

    • I knew you liked this film when I saw your Big Lambowski poster.

      I really loved it and it even topped NCFOM as my favorite Coen brothers movie. Reading my review over again makes me want to see the film another rim. Thanks for commenting.

  10. LOVE the Lebowski. 😉 Glad to hear you did too. Hard to say whether or not it’s their best film or not, I can easily say it’s one of my faves though! 😀

    • The Coens have so many excellent films, and it’s a close race between this and NCFOM. This is a great movie that even exceeded my very high expectations. Thanks for commenting.

  11. Excellent review, glad you finally watched it. I think I would put this one right after Fargo as my favorite. But a close second.

    • I think I like this one a bit more than Fargo and NCFOM, but all three are great films. The Coens are great directors. Thanks for commenting.

  12. Great film, great review! Nice work 🙂


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