The Big Lebowski (1998)

“The Big Lebowski” is probably my favorite Coen brothers film so far, even above “Fargo” in terms of sheer brilliance. “The Big Lebowski” is sort of a celebration of being a man, or in other terms, it’s a celebration of being a dude. Or The Dude. Or duder. Or El Duderino. But the pure fact remains that Bridges is a pure bad ass in anything he’s in and he shows it by being simply “The Dude”. Don’t ever call him Jeff Lebowski, though, it’s the dude. And that’s just the way he likes it. The Dude who lives at the bowling alley, hangs out with his psychotic friends, experiences rivalries with other bowlers, and just has fun finds himself in a humongous crime plot one night after returning home. Upon his return he discovers someone pissing on his carpet and is beaten up in his apartment. It so happens The Dude has been confused with another dude by the name of Jeff Lebowski, a millionaire whose daughter has been kidnapped.

When the dude goes to claim another carpet, he instead is forced to save the daughter’s life and find out who brought his day down with such annoying obstacles. The Coen brothers really know how to tune into the right crowds, because while many of their dramas and thriller have been character driven, “The Big Lebowski” is a very funny and twisted comedy that focuses on characters and not gags. The Dude himself is very funny approaching even the deadliest of situations with an ease that’s odd, while he and his friends try to find out who the culprits are. But the talent also shifts to the Coen veterans like Peter Stormaire, John Turturro, and then there are people like Julianne Moore as Lebowski’s eclectic feminist daughter, Tara Reid as Lebowski’s wayward nymphomaniac wife, Phillip Seymour Hoffman as a demanding representative and then John Goodman and Steve Buscemi who are utterly hilarious as Donny and Walter, two erratic bowlers who make up much of the entertaining dialogue including Goodman who goes to town on this film.

Goodman is a scene stealer, and he chews the scenery with the best of them. But you’re not a film buff if you haven’t at least seen “The Big Lebowski”, and it’s a damn good film about celebrating life, learning how to deal with problems, and basically enjoying hobbies and obsessions, particularly bowling. In one of the many surreal scenes that appropriately identify this as a Coen film, the dude imagines himself in a musical montage set with a glittery heaven of alleys and bowling balls. But the fun of this film is listening to the snappy script, enjoying the wonderful characterization, and watching Jeff Bridges do what he does best. And with my favorite line of the film, “The Dude Abides”, the Coen’s and the dude pretty much sum it up. Just go with the flow, and don’t take it all too hard.