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The Big Lebowski

TwIsTeD ReViEw #5:
The Big Lebowski

Review composed by Sawman3.

Shocking as it may be, I'd never seen this movie until several days ago, when I had the opportunity and realized that it was probably something I should see, given what I'd heard about it and also given my admiration of the Coen brothers as filmmakers. Well, I feel it needs saying that The Big Lebowski (1998) was quite a bit different than I expected it to be. And although I thoroughly enjoyed the movie throughout its first 3/4, the ending fourth left me feeling more than a little unfulfilled. The saving grace of the ending was the little speech directly before the credits... without it I would most likely have given The Big Lebowski a 7, rather than an 8, out of 10.

I do realize that I've just given away my overall rating for the film, but I have a sneaking suspicion that most of you scrolled to the end if before you read the beginning--that is, if you even plan on reading the rest of the review at all

A little background is, as per usual, in order here. The Big Lebowski is another effort by the acclaimed Coen brothers, written by both Joel and Ethan and directed almost exclusively by the former. The lead role of "The Dude" (A.K.A. Jeff Lebowski) is played by Jeff Bridges, the prolific son of Lloyd Bridges, with a near perfect air of bummery, if "bummery" is a word. An air, one might note, that has been since copied by a great number of characters, including one of the cavemen in the ever-present Geico commercials of recent years. The film also features a deeply satisfying and genuinely hilarious performance by John Goodman as The Dude's bowling buddy and close friend Walter Sobchak.

The Coen brothers.

The Big Lebowski opens with two thugs, a blond, long haired caucasian and a "chinaman", bursting into the residence of Jeff Lebowski, who precede to dunk him repeatedly in his toilet while demanding to know the location of a presumably large sum of money. After The Dude, remarkably calmly, fishes his sunglasses from the drink and informs them that they have the wrong Jeff Lebowski, the Asian thug proceeds to piss on The Dude's rug while the other condemns him for being an *******. Then they both storm from the place, leaving The Dude sitting, soaked, against his toilet and surveying his ruined rug.

After The Dude allows Walter to convince him to approach the other Jeff Lebowski, a wealthy official with a sex-addicted wife (named Bunny) who "owes money all over town", in order to gain reimbursement for his rug, the film really takes flight. We follow The Dude and Walter in their frenetic (often hilariously funny) quest to both do right (find Bunny, find a large sum of cash) and, perhaps, get a little something for themselves on the side, as they become involved with porn directors, gangsters, and pissed off Malibu sheriffs, to name a few.

The momentum continues to build, with the occasional lull, until The Big Lebowski just.... well, it just stops. There's really no other way to describe it. What was up until the 3/4 point a brilliant, hilarious character study and story suddenly becomes a mix of dull cliches and one ridiculous and almost embarrassing fight sequence (with a group of German nihilists, no less, with swords. Note also that the fight takes place in a public parking lot outside a reasonably busy bowling area, in front of a car that appears to have been burning for quite some time. And yet... no hint of intervention from the law or otherwise).

Jesus is coming for you.

In addition, I can't say that The Big Lebowski offers any genuine depth beyond its basic screw this, life goes on so "let's go bowling" philosophy. Thus, its replay value suffers as well. The biggest success of this film are the characters themselves, each with a unique personality and each, dare I say, perfectly cast. If you can manage to get beyond the annoying and disappointing ending and just focus on the exuberant humor and sense of fun on display throughout the rest of the flick, you'll come away feeling pretty satisfied. And in the end, that's all that really matters.


or 8.0/10