The Big Lebowski
Ethan Coen, Tim Bevan (executive), Eric Fellner (executive) for Working Title, PolyGram
directed by Joel Coen
starring Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Julianne Moore, Steve Buscemi, David Huddleston, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Tara Reid, Philip Moon, Mark Pellegrino, Peter Stormare, Flea, Torsten Voges, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Jack Kehler, John Torturro, James G.Hoosier, Carlos Leon, Terrence Burton, Richard Gant, Christian Clemenson, Dom Irrera, Gérard L'Heureux, David Thewlis, Lu Elrod, Mike Gomez, Peter Siragusa, Sam Elliott, Marshall Manesh, Harry Bugin, Jesse Flanagan, Irene Olga López, Luis Colina, Ben Gazzara, Leon Russom, Ajgie Kirkland, Jon Polito, Aimee Mann, Jerry Haleva, Jennifer Lamb, Waren Keith, Asia Carrera, Robin James, Wendy Braun, Kiva Dawson
written by Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, music by Carter Burwell
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Just because the Dude (Jeff Bridges), a good-natured unemployed bum who
is interested in little other than bowling, shares his name with wealthy
business tycoon Jeff Lebowski (David Huddleston) he is beaten up by two
thugs (Philip Moon, Mark Pellegrino) whose boss porn producer Treehorn
(Ben Gazzara) tycoon Lebowski's wife Bunny (Tara Reid) owes money -
which wouldn't be so bad if they didn't also pee on the Dude's rug - which
held the room together.
At the suggestion of his best friend and bowling buddy Walter (John
Goodman), a Vietnam veteran with sudden violent outbursts every now and
again, the Dude visits the big Lebowski to get a new rug from him - and
somehow he really manages to trick big Lebowski of rather his servant
Brandt (Philip Seymour Hoffman) out of a rug - which is where the problems
start because the next day, Lebowski's wife is kidnapped and held for
ransom and for some reason he asks the Dude to handle the handover.
Unfortunately the Dude accepts and lets Walter in on the whole deal,
thinking Bunny has only faked her own kidnapping to better her allowance
with the ransom money, and before you know it, the whole thing is messed
up royally when the ransom money is stolen, and the Dude finds himself
between lines, Lebowski on one side, the kidnappers - who turn out to be
an incompetent trio of German nihilists (Peter Stormare, Flea, Torsten
Voges) on the other, and then there's also porn producer Treehorn, who has
gotten wind of the whole deal and wants his share of the money, and
Lebowski's borderline mad daughter Maude (Julianne Moore), who detests her
father and especially his trophy wife Bunny, and who claims the ransom
money - a million bucks - is actually hers since her father has no money
of his own and only lives on an allowance she grants him from her mother's
inheritance - and not only that, she also lets the Dude impregnate her
just to annoy his father.
As the Dude begins to piece together the puzzle though, the whole thing
falls apart when Bunny returns from a weekend in Vegas, and it turns out
that the big Lebowski actually tried to embezzle the money for himself,
making the Dude the fall guy. And though the Dude comes out of the whole
thing empty handed, he at least comes down in one piece - until he meets
the nihilist trio, who burn his car and threaten him with swords ... but
receive a sound beating from Walter, who has finally found a proper outlet
for his aggressions. Unfortunately though, the Dude's and Walters friend
and bowling buddy Donny (Steve Buscemi), who had nothing whatsoever to do
with the whole thing, is so shocked by the attack that he has a heart
attack and dies ... and when the Dude and Walter try to scatter Donny's
ashes into the ocean, the whole load goes right into the Dude's face ...
Over the years, the Coen brothers have made many a very amusing crime
drama, but arguably, The Big Lebowski is there best film ever, the
perfect parody of the film noir genre that is so spot on because it
never consciously tries to be a parody but toys around with various genre
elements up to a point where the whole plot is purposely thrown out of the
window and declared obsolete - without this hurting the film one bit.
Apart from the wickedly clever and unusual approach to storytelling and
the self-assured direction that never shies away from kitsch and nonsense,
the film lives from a cast that's nothing short of excellent, with Jeff
Bridges effortlessly carrying the film in a very unglamorous role and more
and more garish outfits, and supporting actors like John Goodman at his
most psychopathic, Ben Gazzara at his sleaziest, John Torturro (as a
Mexican bowler called Jesus) at his most over the top, and Steve Buscemi
as the guy who isn't even involved in the whole thing add spots of colour
to the film pretty much every step along the way.
Most highly recommended.
review © by Mike Haberfelner
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