The Big Lebowski

Movie Information

The Big Lebowski will be shown at 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 30, in Lord Auditorium at Pack Memorial Library as part of the library's Coen Brothers film series. Bold Life movie critic Marcianne Miller will introduce the film and discuss it after the screening. O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000) will conclude the series on Sept. 6. All shows are free.
Genre: Film-Noir Comedy
Director: Joel and Ethan Coen
Starring: Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Julianne Moore, Steve Buscemi, Philip Seymour Hoffman
Rated: R

I first saw The Big Lebowski (1998) in its original theatrical run about a decade ago, and I’m still not sure why I went to see it. Why would the 15-year-old me be interested in a film-noir satire about a stoner and avid bowler nicknamed “The Dude” (Jeff Bridges), who, after having his favorite rug urinated on, gets entangled in a kidnapping plot involving German nihilists? The answer is beyond me. This becomes especially true when you take into account that at that age I had no knowledge of who the Coen brothers were beyond a general familial obsession with Raising Arizona (1987). Perhaps even odder is that my mother agreed to take me to the theater to see it. But I do know I could never have guessed the cult phenomenon the movie would become, complete with books, T-shirts and numerous “Lebowski Fests” across the nation.

I’ll be the first to admit that, today, I have not been initiated into the cult of Lebowski. I still think the movie drags a bit. It’s a little too full of itself, and there’s way too much John Goodman—not to mention that I’m simply over the movie after hearing it quoted ad nauseam by over-zealous fans (though I did spout “V.I. Lenin” my fair share in high school). I’ve been told that it helps to have a West Coast disposition and a love of bowling (and, I assume for many, a love for a certain controlled substance) to really appreciate the film, all of which I lack. I’m also sure that for many—as scary as it sounds—The Dude might just be the American dream.

Regardless of my reservations when it comes to the film, it’s still important to the filmography of the Coens, since it shows them at their most extreme, wigged-out, playful and just plain odd. Whether you love the film or hate it, who else besides the Coens would be daring enough to make such a movie? The answer is no one. The Big Lebowski’s multitude of die-hard fans couldn’t be more thankful that they did.


3 thoughts on “The Big Lebowski

  1. TonyRo

    I think this movie is very funny, especially the dynamic of Bridges, Goodman, and Buscemi together, but I hate the story. It’s confusing and overly ambitious and ultimately doesn’t even matter in the end (sort of like how a TV show will end with it all being a dream).

    Also Philip Seymour Hoffman is a scene stealer in this flick. Cracks me up, that part with him and the two Lebowskis in the limo.

  2. Ken Hanke

    It’s confusing and overly ambitious

    Though I’m not a fan of the movie — apart from the audacity of it all and the Dude’s assessment of the Eagles — the story is as it is because it’s a parody of Raymond Chandler’s novels.

  3. Louis

    —the story is as it is because it’s a parody of Raymond Chandler’s novels.

    Indeed. Regarding The Big Sleep: Chandler famously said he didn’t know who Owen Taylor’s killer was in the book. May I remind the forgetful among us, he WROTE the book. Keep this in mind when trying futilely to interpret THE BIG LEBOWSKI’S so-called plot. It’s aspirations are headier than people give it credit for.

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