"Way out west there was this fella... fella I wanna tell ya about. Fella by the name of Jeff Lebowski."
Ahh, who am I kidding? If you're a fan, you don't need me to sell you on this DVD. Hence, I shall review this movie in two parts: For fans, and for non-fans. Dudes and Un-dudes.
The new "bowling ball" edition of Lebowski is awesome. Finally we're given the special features that we've been asking for, for years! No audio commentary track, but the Coens and the Dude himself will give you some insight to the film and its characters. After two disappointing editions, this is so overdue. Two discs, featurettes, that weird intro, Lebowskifest, an interactive map of Los Angeles, it's all here. Most of your questions will be answered, but of course not all...some mystery must always remain. Plus the bowling ball just looks cool. I have mine on my entertainment centre, and it's a conversation starter. "What is that bowling ball doing there?" It's sturdy and it houses the DVDs in two slip cases. Life does not stop and start at your convenience, so be sure to pick this up and enjoy when you can.
One important thing about this film that I must stress is, don't try to understand the plot at first. It's every bit as stupifying as anything you can think of. My feeling (and this is just my feeling) is that The Dude himself (Jeff Bridges) doesn't know what the heck is going on, so neither should you. The plot is not complicated, but your thinking about it might be very uptight. I don't nessesarily recommend that you stick to a strict drug regimen to keep you mind limber, but having a few white Russians might help.
The Dude is unemployed (or "a bum" to some) and spends most of his time having acid flashbacks and bowling with Walter (John Goodman) and Donny (Steve Buscemi). One day his home is broken into by two thugs looking for money. They have mistaken The Dude for a millionaire with the same given name: Jeff Lebowski. During this break-in, Wu micturates on The Dude's rug. That rug really tied the room together. Walter tells The Dude to try to take up the rug issue with the other Jeff Lebowski, the millionaire (David Huddleston). And then is where our tale begins.
An amazing soundtrack featuring Dylan, Santana, Costello, Sons of the Pioneers, and more backs a hilariously confusing movie about a guy in way over his head. There are a lot of facets, a lot of ins and outs, a lot of interested parties and strands to keep in Duder's head. Along the way you will meet The Stranger (Sam Elliot), Brant (Philip Seymore Hoffman), Bunny Lebowski (Tara Reid) and a group of nihilists lead by Peter Stormare. Things are complicated by the appearance of Maude Lebowski (Julianne Moore), a kidnapping, and a ransom note. Can The Dude recover the million dollars? All he wants is a finder's fee. Perferably in cash. He has to check with his accountant on this, but he's worried about being put in a higher tax, uhh, you know. All this with next round-robin of the bowling tournament starting. And The Jesus (John Turturro) is ready to take them down.
Brilliantly written, brilliantly directed, brilliantly performed. Yes, you will be confused on first watch, as it should be. By second, third, and fourth, those stands in Duder's head come together, supported by musical cues (listen for CCR), odd bits of dialogue ("Johnson") and clues. Every strand fits like a puzzle, you just need to look.
I can't recommend this movie enough. If you let it click, you too will become a Little Lebowski Urban Achiever, and perhaps even an obsessive fan, dressing up and going to conventions. You never know. At the very least you might just find a new enjoyment of white Russians. Just don't run out of non-dairy creamer. Is there a Ralph's around?
5 stars. Genius movie.