by Brek the David
The Big Lebowski (1998) – Director and Original Screenplay: The Coen Brothers Starring: Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Julianne Moore, Steve Buscemi, John Turturro, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Tara Reid, Peter Stormare OSCAR COUNT (0)
Quite possibly the most quotable movie of all time, The Big Lebowski is the Coen Brothers’ best comedy. This one isn’t a dark comedy like Fargo though. It’s an in your face non-stop hilarious thrill ride that the more it’s experienced, the more it’s appreciated. Packed with some of the most memorable characters cinema has ever seen, each scene is more confusing, but every scene brings laughs hard. The cast is pretty much perfect from Jeff Bridges as The Dude, to John Goodman as Walter, and the cameo by John Turturro as Jesus, but definitely not that Jesus. Even Tara Reid is funny in her small role as Bunny Lebowski.
The mayhem begins when thugs attack The Dude at his apartment in Los Angeles. They’ve confused him with another Jeff Lebowski. What follows might be the most brilliantly chaotic comedy of all time. Actually, no, it IS the most brilliant chaotic comedy of all time. Everything works to perfection here. The incredible frenetic writing, the masterful cinematography (God bless you Roger Deakins), the seamlessly integrated soundtrack (Kenny Rogers’s song over the acid flashback Gutterballs is beyond surreal), and the fantastic performances put in by every actor all blend together to make an irresistibly intoxicating cocktail for the mind. The great thing is the hangover is almost as good as the high itself. The Big Lebowski lingers long after it’s over, as the viewer runs back each memorable scene after the other.
Unlike most films on this list, The Big Lebowski doesn’t need to be analyzed for subversive elements. There isn’t any symbolism or metaphors to mull over for days. It’s just vulgar over the top bizarre fun. Make no mistake, The Big Lebowski is a strange film. From the aforementioned Gutterballs sequence, to The Stranger played by Sam Elliot, there are many things that are head scratchers. The confounding nature though is just part of the fun. Out of nowhere oddities like Knox Harrington or The Dude’s landlord’s Quintet show up adding to the confusion of the already convoluted plot. This isn’t to say The Big Lebowski is a difficult film to follow, but it’s just that so much is going on, or seemingly going on, that it’s a visual and audio overload by the time it’s all said and done.
I suppose the humor is not for everyone, but I’m not sure I could trust a man that didn’t find this film utterly and irrevocably hilarious. The Coens crafted perfection here, a perfect storm of madcap characters and totally absurd situations. A perfect storm that rages long after the film is over, the viewer wanting more, needing more.