The Big Lebowski

Slacker Jeff “The Dude” Lebowski gets involved in a gargantuan mess of events when he’s mistaken for another man named Lebowski.

Year: 1998
Certificate: 18
Director: Ethan CoenJoel Coen
Starring: Jeff BridgesJohn GoodmanJulianne MooreSteve BuscemiPeter StormareDavid HuddlestonPhilip Seymour HoffmanFleaLeon RussomSam ElliottBen GazzaraJohn TurturroDavid ThewlisTara Reid

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I’ve seen a handful of Coen Brothers’ films in my life and have generally enjoyed them. So when “The Big Lebowski” came back onto Netflix recently I decided to give it another watch – especially as it is also on a ‘100 movies bucket-list’ poster I’m working through with my other half. I remember very, very little of the film as it must have been nearly 20 years since I’ve seen it (I’m pretty sure one of my brother’s had it on VHS) so I was certainly coming to it with fresh eyes. Even the countless tweets of ‘The Dude Abides’ and ‘The Dude!’ when it was added didn’t actually jog any memories! So, 22 years after its initial release, let’s see what’s going on with this ‘cult film’ from the Coen Brothers.

“The Big Lebowski” centers around the pacifist slacker Jeff Lebowski (Jeff Bridges), who calls himself ‘The Dude’, and a couple of his bowling buddies: Walter (John Goodman), a Vietnam Vet with severe anger issues, and Donny (Steve Buscemi). One evening a couple of Russian thugs enter The Dude’s house and pee on his rug to get him to pay his debts. The thing is, The Dude has no idea what debts they’re talking about but it turns out there’s another Jeff Lebowski (David Huddleston) – a very rich Jeff Lebowski. And he certainly doesn’t call himself The Dude. The Dude heads over to see his millionaire namesake in order to ask for some money from him to clean his rug. While there, The Dude meets Bunny (Tara Reid) – Lebowski’s nymphomaniac young wife.

As it transpires, Bunny ends up being kidnapped and Lebowski ends up calling The Dude back to ask for his help. It’s a simple job – drop a briefcase full of money off in a designated location at a designated time in order to fulfill Bunny’s ransom and have her released. THis is where the story really starts.

I think it’s fairly safe to say that the film is more about the characters and their interactions than it is about the story. There are so many random plot twists and bizarre sub-plots that it is sometimes hard to keep a track of it all. The story, in my opinion, is purposefully silly and, unfortunately, that can sometimes be a little off-putting. It also means that it is hard to review the film without heading into spoiler territory.

Overall, there isn’t really much that happens throughout the film’s almost 2 hour runtime. But, equally, there is a huge amount of things that happen. And I think that’s what makes the film what it is. It doesn’t take itself too seriously but, at the same time, isn’t a parody, spoof or laugh-out-loud comedy. There are plenty of funny moments throughout the film but the humour may not be to everyone’s liking. There are a couple of parallels to Simon Pegg and Nick Frost’s “Spaced” here too – both of them rely heavily on the interactions between, and the camaraderie of, the characters; and Nick Frost, it would seem, clearly modelled Mike on the character of Walter.

The soundtrack to “The Big Lebowski” is great; the cast are all fantastic; the story is a little weird but overall it’s enjoyable. Do I think it deserves ‘cult’ status? I’m honestly not sure… I think that I enjoyed it. I certainly didn’t dislike it. To quote The Dude’s final lines in the film when asked how he is: “Oh, you know, strikes and gutters, ups and downs,” – I’d say that’s a pretty good description of the film.

Have you seen this film? Let us know your opinions in the comments below and of course if there are any films on Netflix UK you want us to review let us know!

About MaFt

Film and TV fan, creator of New On Netflix (UK, USA, Australia and Canada), dad of two amazing children, code geek and passionate about autism.

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