The Big Lebowski: A Cult Classic

Early one evening early in my third year of college I brought home The Big Lebowski from work (I was employed at a video store at the time). I didn’t know much about it other than the preview looked amusing. One of my brother’s friends and I watched it late that night and were literally crying we laughed so hard. It’s since become one of my all-time favorite comedies. I recently re-watched Lebowski and fell in love once again. Joel and Ethan Coen really outdid themselves with this 1998 cult classic. I honestly believe it to be superior to their critical darling Fargo (though not quite as good as Blood Simple, which they’ve never quite topped).

The Big Lebowski is a mystery flick, or at least the plot follows the arc. Jeff Lebowski, (Jeff Bridges) aka “the Dude” is the kind of laidback 40’s something loser that kids think is ultra cool and hip and anyone over the age of twenty thinks is a hopeless loser. To call him lazy is an understatement. He doesn’t have a job and doesn’t appear to have any ambition other than to win the league bowling tournament (and I’m not even sure that’s important to him). The plot gets rolling when two thugs break into the Dude’s house, rough him up a bit, and pee on his rug. They think he’s a millionaire of the same name, whose wife owes a porn producer money.

He relates his story to Walter (John Goodman), a man whose only occupation seems to be being a Vietnam Vet (or a Polish Cathlic Jew), and Donny (Steve Buscemi) a dunce of the highest order – his two bowling buddies. Walter convinces the Dude to go ask the OTHER Jeff Lebowski for a new rug. The Big Lebowski (David Huddleston) refuses to give the Dude anything and tosses him out on his ear.

Any further explanation of the plot would be a exercise in futility. Part of the charm of the movie is how absolutely convoluted it is. There is a kidnapping, a porn mogul, nihilists, a pedophile bowler, a “fascist” police chief, and an artist specializing in “vaginal” paintings. The person least likely to be able to make heads or tails of this situation should be someone like The Dude (who downs White Russians by the liter and smokes more pot than a college fraternity) but he rises to the challenge.

The performances are all top notch. Goodman is iconic as the Vet who can’t let go. Bridges owns The Dude (he’s the all-time “stoned” character in my opinion). There are some hilarious minor characters like Julianne Moore as Lebowski’s daughter with an accent of unknown origin and John Turturo – wellâÂ?¦.words can’t do justice to the hilarity of his intro.

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a film littered with more quotable lines. Whether it’s Walter telling Donny to be quiet in a not so nice way or the Dude saying you can call him “El Duderino if you’re not into the whole brevity thing” I dare someone to not parrot at least one line.

If you’re in the need of a belly laugh you definitely should catch this one.

four out of four stars

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