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The Big Lebowski

The Big Lebowski

What She said:

She

I first saw The Big Lebowski years ago.  I guess I was still in high school at the time, and I have to say, I didn’t really get what all the big cult fan fuss was about.  I didn’t really find it interesting or funny.  After avoiding it for years, I figured it was time to sit down, approach the movie as a mature adult, and give it a second watching.  I have to say, this time around, things went much better.

I think everyone has heard of this movie, but for those who may not have seen it here’s a basic plot overview.  The Dude is just your below-average type of guy.  He’s a pot-smoking, white Russian drinking, unemployed slob, who spends his days bowling and doing a whole lot of nothing.  He’s got this equally loser friend, Walter, who has anger issues and is obsessed with Vietnam.  Out of the blue, The Dude gets caught up in this case of mistaken identity with a man who shares his actual given name, Jeffrey Lebowski.  And this isn’t a good case of mistaken identity; it’s a pulled into a kidnapping and ransom situation mistaken identity.  The Dude and Walter decide to try to save the day while also making as much money as possible, which, of course, backfires.  There are various other characters involved as the storyline reveals itself and we learn what’s really going on.

The Big Lebowski smells distinctly like a Coen Brothers movie.  It’s filled with slightly unhinged and uniquely deranged characters who help to create the strangest situations.  As such, the movie is ripe with dark humor.  Most of it works pretty good.  I wouldn’t say that, overall, it’s even a “haha” kind of movie.  In fact, what is interesting about this film is that it cannot quite be labeled.  There’s a bit of comedy, mystery, thrills, and action, but not really enough of each to define it.  You could approach it as a character study, but I wouldn’t say The Dude is complex enough to learn too much from.  It’s just sort of an interesting movie. 

The Big Lebowski is definitely not my favorite Coen Brothers film.  I’d give that to either Fargo or No Country for Old Men, but I found it oddly satisfying.  It came together pretty well, turned out to have a pretty well developed storyline, and you just can’t help but love The Dude.

Thumbs up.

What he said:

He

The Big Lebowski was not wildly successful during its theatrical run, but is respected by many critics and is considered a cult classic. Despite its popularity, I have only seen this movie in its entirety once. The one time I saw it, I didn’t care for it. As I grew older, became aware of its reputation, and was a fan of some of the other Coen Brothers’ work (Fargo and No Country for Old Men in particular), I figured maybe I was a little too young to appreciate it. I was a teenager when I saw it and later on thought maybe the humor went over my head.

So when it recently popped up on TV, I figured this was a good opportunity to give it another viewing.

The Big Lebowski is a story of mistaken identity. Jeffrey “The Dude” Lebowski (Jeff Bridges) is the slacker of all slackers. He’s unemployed and doesn’t really do anything except smoke weed, get drunk, and bowl. One day, he’s mistaken for another Jeffrey Lebowski. This other Lebowski is a much older and wealthier man. His wife has recently been kidnapped. So you can imagine how The Dude’s quiet life takes a dramatic turn when he becomes involved in all kinds of shady folk and activities that go along when dealing with a kidnapping.

This is like a dream come true for his friend Walter (John Goodman). Walter is a veteran, a conspiracy theorist, and a lunatic to boot. He sees this as an opportunity to get rich and to be honest I think he’s been itching to hurt somebody for a long time.

Along the way, the two of them meet all kinds of characters with varying agendas. Their adventures make for some interesting and sometimes funny situations.

I’ve got to admit, I still don’t love this movie. I like it a little more than I did the last time I saw it, but I’m still not head-over-heels for it.

It’s filled with some very memorable characters. Bridges and Goodman are great. They bring life to these quirky characters. There are a lot of good performances in this role, even from the smaller roles.

The movie also has its funny moments. Those solid performances of such quirky characters do make for some amusing moments.

But when it comes right down to it, there were more than a few instances where I stared blankly at the screen and was genuinely bored by what was going on. Every character was weird and every situation more bizarre/surreal than the last one. It was a little much for me at times.

Diagnosis: Thumbs half up.

This movie review was written for your reading pleasure on March 8, 2012.