The Big Lebowski (Comedy, Crime)
Directed by Joel Coen and Ethan Coen
Starring Jeff Bridges, John Goodman and Steve Buscemi
Universal Studios | 1998 | 119 min | Rated R | Released Aug 16, 2011
Video codec: VC-1
Video resolution: 1080p
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
French: DTS 5.1
English SDH, French, Spanish
Single 50GB Blu-ray Disc
The Film 4/5
The Big Lebowski is essentially about mistaken identity if you care about the plot. Jeffrey Lebowski is known to his friends as The Dude (Bridges) and a gang of criminals pay him a visit thinking that he's another Lebowski who happens to be a millionaire. After they urinate on his rug, he seeks out the millionaire to claim compensation.
The millionaire's wife goes missing and the gang asks for a million dollars in ransom. The Dude is chosen as the courier.
That's about it. The plot is incidental; this is a movie about a way of life.
The Dude hangs out with two of his bowling buddies, Walter (Goodman) and Donny (Buscemi). Walter is a Vietnam veteran who has anger management issues; Donny hardly says a word and is told to shut up every time he tries to make a comment.
The Dude is a mellow kind of a guy. He shops in his robe, gets high, and talks like he's permanently stoned. Walter is a mystery to him because he is so easily annoyed. When a competing team puts a toe over the line during a bowling game, Walter pulls out a gun and insists that it is marked down as a zero. It's a league game after all.
The movie doesn't take itself too seriously and can be classed as a comedy more than anything, but the style of comedy may be different to the type you are used to. Many of the jokes are clever and subtle, and it's rare for the humor to be aimed too low.
Watching The Big Lebowski is an experience. You're never quite sure what it is or where it is going. The plot elements aren't very important, but everything adds up and provides a reason for the characters to do what they do. It's the sort of movie where nothing happens, but you find yourself thinking about it days later.
Fargo and No Country for Old Men are exceptional movies from the Coen Brothers, but many fans would argue that The Big Lebowski is better. I'm not among them, but it amuses me and I'm glad to finally own it on Blu-ray.
Video Quality 3.5/5
Although the Blu-ray is a vast upgrade over the DVD, I'm a little disappointed with the overall look. Colors are much improved and everything looks brighter and cleaner, but the VC-1 presentation could have been better. Fine detail is present in a few scenes, but is lacking for the most part. Faces in particular seem badly defined. It just about earns a passing grade, but don't expect to be dazzled.
Audio Quality 4.5/5
The English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track sounds great. The songs carry a lot more weight than in previous releases. Dialogue is clear throughout and the predominantly front-heavy mix blends well with the action. No complaints about the sound.
Special Features 4/5
Worthy Adversaries: What's My Line Trivia - A game for one or two players in which you have to supply missing dialogue from The Dude and Walter.
An Exclusive Introduction (4:40, SD)
The Dude's Life (10:08, HD)
The Dude Abides: The Big Lebowski Ten Years Later (10:26, HD)
Making of The Big Lebowski (24:35, SD)
The Lebowski Fest: An Achiever's Story (13:53, SD)
Flying Carpets and Bowling Pin Dreams: The Dream Sequences of The Dude (4:20, HD)
Jeff Bridges Photo Book (17:30, HD) - Bridges took shots while filming and explains them here.
Photo Gallery (3:25, SD)
U-Control: Three features with PiP, text and a profanity counter.
The Music of The Big Lebowski
Mark It, Dude
The Big Lebowski is a typically quirky effort from the Coen Brothers. While not their very best work, it deserves a place in your collection. Bridges and Goodman excel in their roles and hold the whole thing together. The Blu-ray presentation enhances the experience, but not quite as much as I had hoped. The packaging is good and there's plenty of behind the scenes information if The Big Lebowski is your kind of film.
Overall score 4/5
on June 30, 2004
While I haven't seen the latest Coen Brothers films, like Intolerable Cruelty (2003) or The Lady Killers (2004), I have seen all their movies since O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000), and I can say I've never been disappointed, and that certainly holds true for The Big Lebowski (1998), the film, not received well by the critics, they made after their Oscar winning film Fargo (1996). While it may not have been a critical success, it is one of my favorite films, and one the rarely gathers dust on my shelf, as I've seen it a few times.
The film boasts quite a cast of actors including Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Jullianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Tara Reid, Ben Gazzara, Sam Elliot along with a few veterans of previous Coen brothers films like Steve Buscemi, John Tuturro, and Peter Stormere. So what is the film about? Well, I'll tell you...The film, which takes place in California in the early 90's, starts off with a little expository by a narrator known as The Stranger (Sam Elliot) giving us a little detail about the main character, Jeffery Lebowski aka The Dude, played by Bridges, who seems to have put on a bit of weight for the role, and sports long hair much like that he had when he was in the 1976 flopperino remake of King Kong. Anyway, the first thing you notice about The Dude is he is extremely laid back, very possibly a casualty of the California counterculture of the 60's and early 70's who seems perfectly content to take each day as it comes. While returning to his modest rental home one night, he finds two thuggish men waiting for him, one who soon acquaints The Dude's head with the inside of The Dude's toilet, while the other decides to despoil The Dude's living room rug in the manner of a unhousebroken dog. Seems these two men work for a smut peddler named Jackie Treehorn, and are looking to collect money owed to Mr. Treehorn by Jeffery Lebowski's wife, Bunny (Reid). Only thing is they got the wrong Jeffery Lebowski. Seeking reimbursement for his rug, The Dude visits the other Jeffery Lebowski, an older, well-to-do wheelchair bound man whose young trophy wife seems to have amassed quite a debt to a number of people, including Mr. Treehorn. This meeting sets into motion a complicated series of events including kidnapping which evolves into a mystery, a ransom request for one million dollars, a suitcase of dirty underwear, a stolen car, an altercation with nihilists, various beatings, guns, a bowling tournament, interpretive dance, a sexual liaison, a ferret, some drugs, painting in the nude, the removal of a toe, a wicky drug-induced dream sequence, copious amounts of profanity and even a death, all with The Dude right smack in the middle.
Jeff Bridges is wonderful as The Dude, a laid back individual with a self awareness few possess having to deal with harshness put upon him by circumstances just always a bit out of his control. He ends up basically going with the flow, finally stumbling on a moment of clarity as the mystery resolves itself. The funniest scenes usually involve The Dude, his friend and bowling teammate Walter Sobchek (Goodman), and fellow friend Donny (Buscemi) as their conversations, riddled with ludicrous tangents, usually devolve into heated debates and personal attacks, usually with Donny getting the worst of it. One of the things I like so much about this film is there is just so much going on, much of which may seem unrelated to the main plot, but I think it's purposeful, weaving an thick, intricate, colorful tapestry right before your eyes and definitely requires numerous viewings, just to soak it all up. There is definitely a beginning, a middle, and an end here, but the path between is very convoluted at times, but not confusing, if that makes sense. Normally I dislike dream sequences in films, as they often tend to be a mish mash of stylistic tripe, but the one in this film was truly enjoyable and laden with symbolism relating to the events preceding it, and even utilizes a song I consider to be a classic in that of Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In) by Kenny Rogers and the First Edition. It was funny, because the core of the story is based on a mystery, but I spent little time in trying to decipher it, as I was so intrigued with everything that was going on, the related and seemingly unrelated material. A word of warning, though, as I've mentioned before, there is a good amount of profanity throughout the film, so if you are easily offended, you might steer clear of this movie.
The film is offered in both wide screen and full screen format, and the picture quality is good, but not as good as I would have expected with such a recent release. Some scenes seemed a bit dark, and there was a slight fuzziness at times, but nothing very notable unless you are seated very close to the screen (I normally refrain from getting so picky, but I've seen this film a number of times). Special features are pretty slim, including a 30-minute interview with the Coen brothers on the making of the film, along with a teaser trailer and cast biographies. I didn't care for presentation much, as after putting the disc in your player, you are directed to pick a format, wide screen or full screen, and the movie would start playing, skipping entirely over the menu, presenting it only after completion of the film, or by pressing the menu button on the remote. This is most common on older or extremely cheap releases (this was originally released in 1998, and then again in 2003 with no enhancements or changes). If any film was ripe for an enhanced special edition re-release, this is it.
on June 9, 2004
This movie begins with a meandering voiceover by Sam Elliot that wanders around in several different directions before he pauses to admit that he has lost his place and forgot what the hell he was talking about.....
The script wanders about too, but it's a good trip. The Coen's like writing scripts with characters who are not very smart, or at least not nearly as smart as they think they are. Jeff Bridges plays "The Dude", a likeable loser of a Californian who unfortunately shares the same last name as "The Big Lebowski", a wealther older man with a trophy ex-porn star wife who owes some bad characters some money. The Dude's chief social activity seems to be drinking White Russians, being stoned, and hanging out with his bowling team. John Goodman plays a Vietnam Vet who doesn't think twice about trying to double-cross criminals to make off with some ransom money, but pulls a gun on a rival bowler who makes a minor infraction, stepping across the line during league play.
To try to describe the plot would meander worse than Sam Elliot's opening narration, but by the end Sam shows up in person (looking great as usual beneath a cowboy hat) to tell the Dude that he like's his style.
I don't know about the Dude, but I like the Coen's style. A lot.
on January 4, 2004
Up front I tell you that this is a film that may or may not fascinate you. It's a comedy and one that's different than most others of the genre. But if you have seen Fargo and liked it, well, then you almost certainly will enjoy The Big Lebowski. A few laughs and grins belong to the possibilities, I think.
The cast is the Coen Brothers' usual odd mix: Jeff Bridges (in the role of The Dude), John Goodman (as The Dude's bowling buddy), Steve Buscemi (also in fargo), Peter Stormare (also in Fargo), and others such as Julianne Moore, who features as an erotic artist.
The plot is not at all that important; it's the weird scenes such as the one in which The Dude is harassed by the nihilists and their 'ferret', bizarre characters, and unpredictability that hold The Big Lebowski together.
The unemployed Jeff Lebowski does little else besides smoking pot, bathing, and bowling. Unfortunately he shares his name with some other man ... troubles begin.
I liked it, and do recommend it with certain reservations.
on December 8, 2003
This 1998 comedy was written and directed by the famous Coen Brothers. I don't usually like comedies and I didn't particularly like this one either. But I must say that I was engaged in the story and gave it a giggle now and then. That's saying a lot for me.
The setting is Los Angeles. The star is Jeff Bridges, cast as a what has come to be called "a slacker". It's never clear how he makes his living. It seems to spend his days taking baths and smoking a lot of pot. His one passion is bowling and his best friend and bowling buddy is John Goodman.
One day, some rough guys mistakenly think he is a millionaire with the same name and come to collect a debt incurred by the millionaire's spendthrift wife. This leads to a series of events that get more and more complicated, involving our slacker hero is a series of escapades including a supposed kidnapping. The dialog is sharp and funny throughout and includes a lot of colorful language. The acting, especially by John Goodman, is great. Jullianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman and John Turturro are also in the cast and add a bit more sparkle to the silly, but yet fast-paced story whose strength lies in its unpredictability.
Not bad for a comedy. And it's fun to relax sometimes. That's why I give it a modest recommendation.
on August 23, 2003
Wow. What a film. What a marvelous, glorious film. While there is essentially no plot, and what little there is makes little sense, this PERFECTLY cast movie is crammed with so much good stuff, so much inspired lunacy, that you will find yourself not caring a bit.
Though Jeff Bridges is the main character, and a fine job he does, the real star is John Goodman, that big jolly man who frequents SNLs and other Coen Brothers movies. Absolutely NO ONE ELSE could pull off the role of Walter, the militaristic Vietnam vet obsessed with his ex-wife, to the point of converting to Judaism and refusing to do anything, including bowling, on the Sabbath. The energy conveyed by Goodman in this role, in particular when fighting the German nihilists, is truly inspiring. Also in fine form is Steve Buscemi as Donnie, the misfit third wheel who is constantly out of his element. Bridges portrays the philosophical slacker with laid back ease. Julianne Moore is unflinchingly brilliant as the ultra-artsy feminist Maude Lebowski. Young Tara Reid, pre- AMERICAN PIE, plays a perfectly idiotic trophy wife, a role she seems born for. And do let us not forget Jesus the Bowler, played with sexual, perverse flair by John Turturro. And the seasoned veteran Sam Elliot does not disappoint as the narrating cowboy.
In more minor areas, the millionaire Lebowski is excellent; the German nihilists, including Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, are menacingly silly; the porn kingpin Jackie Gleeson is an effective slimeball; and the Malibu police officer ("stay out of my beach community, you bum...") could not be better.
Filled with skillful shots, including one from a bowling ball, repeated references ("It really tied the room together"), and surreal nonsense ("Gutterballs"), this is not to be missed. By any means. The Dude Abides.
on July 29, 2003
In what has to be the most brilliantly disjointed and anarchic look at the alienation, apathetic stupor, and pedestrian self-absorption of the pathetic Southern California lifestyle ever filmed, the two Coen brothers ('Fargo') produced and directed this near 'cult' film to explore the plethora of cultural cop-outs parading as lifestyles in this zany yet affectionate look at a totally burned out and yet eminently likeable basket case by the name of Jeff Lebowski, who is played masterfully by Jeff Bridges, in yet another of his consistently underestimated character portrayals. Lebowski prefers to go by his street name of "Dude", and seems to be the ultimate California case of a one-time fairly intelligent 'n'er-do-well' now perpetually down on his luck and reduced to only occasional flashes of clarity and full functioning after way too many years of sex, drugs, and rock and roll, and then some more drugs tossed in on the side.
The Coens' penchant for offbeat characters is having a field day here, with everyone in the cast allowed to vent in a kind of wacko 'Disneyland on the strip' approach to making the endless days of gorgeous LA sunshine pass, as our protagonist finds trouble in the promised land. Particularly memorable here is John Goodman weighing in as the paranoid and unpredictably violent Walter Sobchak, the 'Dude's' best friend and perpetual bowling partner. The holy ceremony of bowling and the seriousness that it plays in the lives of the several losers like the Dude, Sobchak, and the preening eccentric Jesus Quintana (a wonderfully over-the-top John Turturro) and the rest of the motley crew on the Dude's team provides a kind of key that unlocks the mystery of their uniformly alienated, pointless, and directionless lives, as each tumbles from crisis to crisis, and with each attempt that Dude makes to cope with the circumstances that mysteriously start to swirl around his drug addled self-absorption and wake him into a groggy yet sober recognition that something very serious and potentially deadly is going on around him, he is repeatedly sabotaged and blind-sided by the myopic and near-psychotic antics of his friends.
Dude seems to approach crisis management as an exercise in spin control, and tries, sometimes quite ingeniously, to talk his way out of the staccato violence that punctuates his days with increasingly urgent frequency. But as the mystery deepens and Lebowski is sucked farther into the quicksand of coincidences, mistaken identities, and sheer madness that lurks just beneath the cover of these friendly skies, we are introduced to the powers and the principalities that are driving the madcap antics and the increasing shrill intensities of everyone but the Dude. The plot often seems disjointed, yet in a macabre way that seems to shout that not only is truth sometimes stranger than fiction, it is sometimes absolutely insane. Yet it eventually resolves itself into a semi-rational resemblance to plausible reality, or at least almost. And one walks way from the outstanding ensemble cast's performance thinking that something magic and allegorical has happened here, and it is perhaps exactly the insanity of the proceeding activity that is the point. They are indeed, every last one of them, just California crazy! This is a wild roller coaster of a film experience, but one absolutely worth the taking. Buckle up, kids, you're in for a bumpy ride! Enjoy!
Jeff Bridges does not play the title role in "The Big Lebowski." Bridges plays the Dude; David Huddleston plays the Big Lebowski, a rich guy with a young trophy wife named Bunny (Tara Reid). The problem is that the Dude and the Big Lebowski have the same name, which explains why when Bunny runs up debts the moronic pair sent to collet money from her husband end up at the house of the wrong Lebowski. From that moment on the Dude's life gets very confusing and he is clearly the person least capable of dealing with this confusion of anybody in the greater Los Angeles area,
"The Big Lebowski" is only disappointing because it is the first film the Coen Brothers came out with after "Fargo." When you make a masterpiece it is hard to follow-up with something equally strong. Even "The Magnificent Ambersons" suffers in comparison to "Citizen Kane," and whatever happened to the guy who made "Titanic"? However, if "The Big Lebowski" came out after "Raising Arizona" nobody would have batted an eye. Not just because they both deal with a kidnapping that may or may not be a kidnapping, but also because the Coen Brothers have rounded up many of the usual familiar faces from their other films for this endeavor.
There are two main questions in this film. The first is "What is going on?" Repeatedly the Dude sits down and explains to his friends Walter (John Goodman) and/or Donny (Steve Buscemi) what he thinks is going on, or Walter takes a stab at it, and the odds are that sooner or later they are going to get it right. Just do not put money down on it. The second is what, if anything, the Dude will have left at the end of this meandering story. You get the feeling that chances are neither the Dude nor his car are going to get out of this one alive and that his friends are as much a threat to the Dude (and his car) as the growing number of enemies who keep popping up through the festivities. If only the Dude did not own a rug that really pulled his apartment together, then he might have been spared a lot of pain and frustration.
"The Big Lebowski" is a film that will grow on you, especially once you get atuned to the idea that the Dude is trying to keep his life together, the same way his beloved rug pulled together his apartment. Even a misfire by the Coens is going to have some memorable moments and every film they make certainly has a chance to be on the level of "Raising Arizona" and "Fargo," so even their second tier efforts are worth watching.
on July 7, 2003
The Big Lebowski (Joel Coen, 1998)
The Big Lebowski is considered, at least by the users of IMDB, to be one of the best movies of all time (as I write this, it sits at #228 on the top 250). I seem to be not as big a fan of all things Coen as most people; while I found Miller's Crossing, Fargo, and The Man Who Wasn't There brilliant pieces of moviemaking, I was one of those unfortunate souls who found Raising Arizona unwatchable. The Big Lebowski wasn't that bad, to be sure, but it wasn't the laff riot advertised by its many fans, in my opinion.
Jeff Bridges (Starman/Jagged Edge) stars as Jeffrey "The Dude" Lebowski, who suffers a fate common to many of us; someone mistakes him for another guy with the same name. Except it's not a credit card company or a telemarketer doing it, it's a pair of thugs trying to collect on a debt run up by Lebowski's (the other Lebowski, that is) wife (Tara Reid of Return to Salem's Lot, all grown up). In the course of roughing Lebowski (the poorer) up, one of the thugs decides that urinating on the carpet is an effective way of getting someone to pay a debt. So Lebowski (the poorer), urged on by his best friend Walter (John Goodman, in the performance of his career), decides to contact Lebowski (the richer, played by David Huddleston [The Wonder Years/Frantic]) to see if he can get a replacement rug. After all, the thugs meant to urinate on HIS rug. And it all goes downhill from there.
Almost every review of this movie points out the many fine performances in here and attributes the movie's greatness to them. Certainly, the performances are fine, but one wonders if those who have said this to be Jeff Bridges' finest work have seen Starman or Jagged Edge; those who have called this Flea's best work have ever seen Dudes or Suburbia; Steve Buscemi's, Reservoir Dogs; Julianne Moore's, Hellcab or Far from Heaven; you get the idea. These are good performances, and some (especially those of Goodman and cameo appearer John Turturro) are great, but almost everyone here has shown themselves capable of this level of work in the past as well. And as we have been given a number of examples of in the past couple of years (In the Bedroom, White Oleander, Traffic, etc.), a number of great performances are all well and good, but if they don't add up to anything do not necessarily make for a great film. Such is the case here. The visual artistry that made The Man Who Wasn't There or O Brother, Where Art Thou? such treats is notably absent here; Coen seems to have opted to make a film that was "straight" on its surface and all too queer underneath (a technique, it should be noted, that worked exceptionally in Fargo). When it works, it works, when it doesn't, it doesn't.
Worth a rental, anyway, but not a keeper like so many other Coen Brothers films. ** 1/2
on November 23, 2002
The Big Lebowski provides further proof (as if it was needed) that the Cohen's are masters of film design and execution. Case in point: the script. At one point, The Dude, completely smashed, comments that "Mr. Treehorn treats objects like women"-a line that can use multiple going-overs. Other scenes feature a marmot in a bathtub, cameras used in the wholes of a bowling ball, a malfunctioning submachine gun, and no end of vehicular damage.
The camera work is equally impressive. From the "Gutter Balls" dream sequence to the introduction of Jesus, the sex offender, a wistful, surreal quality permeates the film-especially when combined with the music. The gothic chanting and the Latin dance tune both fit their respective scene perfectly.
The plot is simple, revolving around The Dude, a bowler whose current major problem is that the rug that tied the room together has been despoiled, and he wants to get it replaced. It's simplicity is effective; it works well.
However, it does have one fault. The end of the film sort of leaves many plot threads lying there. The entire film was filled with people asking what had happened to the money, and yet the end of the film makes us wonder the same thing-it's never really established.
But that's the only problem. Bottom line: If you're looking for something serious, in Fargo's vein, this isn't quite what you need. On the other hand, if you like a film with crazy camera angles, suitable music, and Saddam Husein passing out bowling shoes, then enjoy.