Urban Cinefile
"I started as a comic, as you probably can tell (laughs), but I lost my way, and for the last 30 years I have tried to get back "  -Al Pacino
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Tuesday September 15, 2020 

Printable page PRINTABLE PAGE



A thug out to collect a debt owed by Bunny Lebowski (Tara Reid), young trophy wife to Jeffrey Lebowski (David Huddleston), wheelchair-bound Pasadena millionaire, turns up at the wrong Jeffrey Lebowski (Jeff Bridges), also known as The Dude. While menacing him, he scornfully urinates on his nice rug. The Dude is a lazy loser who wastes his days drinking and bowling with his buddies Walter Sobchak (John Goodman), a short-tempered Vietnam vet; and Donny (Steve Buscemi), a slow-witted ex-surfer. When The Dude attempts to receive compensation for his soiled rug from "the Big Lebowski," he sets off an outrageous chain of events that involves everything from kidnapping, ransom, double crosses, and pornography to a writer for the vintage TV western Branded, a gang of German nihilists, and their lethal pet marmot.

"The road down a Coen Bros film is wonderfully dark, yet brightly lit by an eclectic group of characters, all of whom have one thing in common - they are all bizarre. After the wonderfully satisfying and complete work of Fargo, many will no doubt be disappointed at this wild journey that doesn’t really go anywhere. The plot has big gaping holes in it, and there is much that could be branded as Coen Bros self indulgence. But before you dismiss The Big Lebowski, allow it to tickle the funny bone, by entering a world of funny, outrageous characters who find themselves in absurd situations. There is nothing apologetic about this film. It is in-your-face and blatantly offensive at times, yet compulsive and entertaining at others. The performances are high class, and it looks like everyone had a ball making it. There are some Coen regulars - Buscemi, Stormare and Turturro; watch out for the latter in an amazing turn as Jesus, the serious bowler in the purple skin tight bodyshirt and matching pants, who has enough pizzazz to emulate a flamenco dancer on heat. Jeff Bridges’ Dude is a laid-back character, a real dead-beat, a lazy slob, whose main activity is getting together with his bowling buddies. As the pivot for the story, Dude is the converse of John Goodman’s Walter, the loudmouth with the army haircut and obsession, while Steve Buscemi is cast against type as the mild-mannered, serious bowler. Bowling is a religion to these boys, a catharsis and the mainstay of their friendship and relationship. Julianne Moore’s scene stealing first appearance shows her flying (on wires) over an artist canvas, naked, with blobs of paint which she ceremoniously dumps as she flies past. There are some delicious surprises in the cast, and there’s a lot of business that gets belly laughs. The Big Lebowski is a film comprising of absurdly funny moments, loosely knitted together in a clever plot of sorts, and glued together with a fabulous music score of moody and upbeat tunes. If you’re a fan, don’t miss it - it may not be Fargo, but you’ll be swept away by the sheer nonsensical, farcical wonder of it all."
Louise Keller

"One can always tell when a comedy is in trouble when, during a normally quiet press screenings, two lone critics howls with laughter at what can only be described as obvious humour. Ah, but it's the Coen brothers, who made the wonderful Fargo, so this must be pure genius. Right? Wrong. The Big Lebowski is a case of more is more, and they pile it on to garish excess, in a case of ego gone mad. Having done wonders with the minimalist Fargo, Blood Simple and Raising Arizona, the pair of idiosyncratic filmmakers go for a convoluted plot-based piece, and in so doing, make a film too much aware of itself. The result is a pretentious mess, a film that tries so hard to be amusing that it falls short of being much of anything. Is it parodying the detective genre, the seventies, Los Angeles, or all of the above? It lacks the audacity that is the trademark of this pair of artists. The film's performances are just as weak. Jeff Bridges tries so hard to be laid back, that he comes across as dull, while Goodman tries the opposite, overacting and yelling to excess. Julianne Moore comes off a tad better in a silly role, while Steve Buscemi does very little. The whole thing has been indulgently directed by Joel Coen, who even misuses the very landscape that he's attempting to satirize. Fargo was a wonderful mix of styles, subtle, understated and quite brilliant, while this is, shamefully, little more than a self-indulgent bore."|
Paul Fischer

"Just as Lebowski The Dude is mistaken for Lebowski the millionaire, this film is mistaken as the work of the real Coen brothers; this is by the other Coen brothers. The ones who get all the ingredients, write the clever and effective dialogue, pull in a top cast and the right musos, but cannot find the right saucepan to put the ingredients in for cooking. These Coens just slurp the whole thing into a jar and shake. The Coens who made Fargo just had one more thing going with their recipe: they could see how the dish would look on a nice platter at the end."
Andrew L. Urban

Email this article


Positive: 0
Negative: 1
Mixed: 2


CAST: Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, John Turturro, Peter Stormare, Julianne Moore, David Huddleston, Phiulip Seymour Hoffman, Flea, Leon Russom, Sam Elliott, Tara Reid, John Turtorro, David Thewlis, Ben Gazzara


PRODUCER: Ethan Coen

SCRIPT: Joel & Ethan Coen


EDITOR: Roderick Jaynes, Tricia Cooke

MUSIC: Carter Burwell (Musical archivist: T-Bone Burnett)


RUNNING TIME: 127 minutes




Video Release: May 12, 1999
Video Distributor: PolyGram

© Urban Cinefile 1997 - 2020