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STUDIO: Universal Studios
RUNNING TIME: 119 minutes
- Limited Edition collectible 28-pg book packaging including an exclusive interview, Jeff Bridges’ on-set photography, a film timeline, trivia and more!
- Digital Copy of The Big Lebowski (expires 12/31/2012)
- U-Control: Scene Companion – Watch behind the scenes footage, interviews and more while you watch the film
- U-Control: Mark It, Dude – This on-screen counter keeps track of the “F-bombs,” “Dudes” and Lebowski-isms during the film
- U-Control: The Music of The Big Lebowski – Identify the songs in the film and create a custom playlist
- Worthy Adversaries: What’s My Line Trivia – Test your Lebowski knowledge with this interactive game
- The Dude’s Life
- The Dude Abides: The Big Lebowski Ten Years Later
- Making of The Big Lebowski
- The Lebowski Fest: An Achiever’s Story
- Flying Carpets and Bowling Pin Dreams: The Dream Sequences of The Dude
A lazy guy becomes embroiled in a kidnapping plot.
Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, Julianne Moore, Sam Elliott
Jeffrey Lebowski. The Dude. His Dudeness. El Duderino. Pothead, lover of bowling, white russians (or caucasians, as The Dude calls them), rugs. He’s a real mensch, a guy whose only job is taking it easy. In a case of mistaken identity, 2 dudes break into his house, stuff his head into a toilet, and accuse him of owing someone money. They proceed to threaten him and pee on his rug. You see, he just happens to have the same name as a Pasadena millionaire and is thrust into a conflict the likes of which he has never known. This is where our story begins.
(spoilers if, God forbid, you haven’t seen this.)
“The Dude Abides.” That means so much to so many people. The Dude is a guy we all want to be. He doesn’t care about a damn thing, except his bowling pals Walter (John Goodman) and Donnie (Steve Buscemi) and making sure he has enough half & half for his white russians. His pal Walter is the most hardcore of Vietnam vets, going as far as to pull a gun on another bowling team for not marking a frame a zero. He’s insane. Donnie oftentimes interjects his opinions, much to Walter’s chagrin, classically yelling “Shut the fuck up, Donnie!”. Poor Donnie. The sad thing about the film is that Donnie ends up being the one that bites it. Which for someone who never really got involved in the whole matter until the very end of things, and was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, is very sad. I’m not sure that people ever talk about that enough.
There are great supporting roles throughout. John Turturro as Jesus Quintana, The Dude and Walter’s bowling nemesis, has what I consider maybe one of the top 5 entrances in cinematic history. The Gypsy Kings’ version of Hotel California that plays is even better than the original. And brilliantly used. A small part, but one of the most memorable nonetheless. Turturro is so batshit insane, I love it. Julianne Moore as Maude Lebowski, daughter of The Big Lebowski (David Huddleston) whose best interests are in manipulating the situation to her own ends because she hates her stepmother Bunny (Tara Reid) who is at the center of the whole kidnapping mess. Philip Seymour Hoffman as Brandt, The Big Lebowski’s servant/assistant. The nihilists. Greatness all around. But you already know all of this. This is The Dude’s story, and as great as everyone else is, it’s Bridges’ performance that makes the movie. He’s the unassuming layabout who doesn’t really do much but still ends up being in the middle of a supposed kidnapping plot, only because he shares the same name with a wealthy businessman. His life is upended by this faux kidnapping and the whereabouts of a million dollars which he thinks he’s responsible for losing.
I didn’t see the film when it first came out, which is preposterous. I cannot tell you why I did not. It wasn’t until several years ago that I discovered its true brilliance, and I have loved it every since. I wouldn’t say I’m a “student” of the film. I don’t know if I’m a student of any film, really. I just enjoy. But that doesn’t mean I won’t over-analyze. I’ve always wondered whether or not The Stranger (played brilliantly by Sam Elliott) was God or some sort of angel. Probably not. Sometimes we tend to read into things a bit unnecessarily and don’t just take things at face value. The Dude is a wonderful character and 100% without pretension because he just takes things in stride. Nothing really phases the guy; he’s getting drugged and beaten up and he doesn’t care. As long as there’s a drink to be had, The Dude can sit down and relax and take it easy. He’s just letting life take its course. You don’t have to be wealthy or extremely successful. Stuff is gonna happen regardless, right? That’s what I take from this.
The thing that’s so great about this film is how quotable it is at every single turn. A great little feature of the DVD packaging (which is in mini-book style) is that the film’s best quotes are littered throughout the pages. My personal favorite is “Well obviously you’re not a golfer” but there are plenty. “This is what happens when you fuck a stranger in the ass!” is another line that I think John Goodman gets thrown at him everytime he walks down the street. I also laugh my ass of when Walter says “You’re killing your father, Larry!” in that exact same sequence. One aspect I’ve always wondered about (here I go with my silly speculation again) is whether or not Sam Elliott really is saying bar as opposed to bear when he says “Sometimes you eat the bar, and, well, sometimes he eats you.” We know what the real saying is. Being a bear, it makes sense. But it’s just an expression. And The Dude says it the same exact way at the very end of the film. To this day, Elliott’s southern inflection makes it sound like bar and I’d get thinking if there might be some deeper meaning since they are sitting at a bar, someplace The Dude spends a fairly large portion of the movie at (whether sitting down at one or standing in front of one making a drink) in one way or another. As if to say the only danger in his life would come from the leisurely inaction of sitting around with white russians and a joint between his fingers. Like it’s The Dude’s version of that saying. But it’s probably just Sam Elliott’s delivery. As an aside, though, don’t you just wanna know Sam Elliott? Have him in your life and ask him for advice from time to time? Greatest voice ever.
Is this my favorite Coen Brothers film? Not quite, but it’s up there. I have an even deeper love for their films like Miller’s Crossing or No Country For Old Men. But really, take your pick. Any Coen Brothers film could be your favorite because of how deeply nuanced they all are. They tend to create perfect cinematic experiences and rarely have missteps. This is one of those perfect experiences. I get chills at the end and come away feeling better about things. Try as I might, there’s nothing you can find wrong with this film. And it’s going to stay that way. That’s why it speaks to so many people and why the critics were absolutely fucked to have given this poor reviews when it came out. They just didn’t get it. Plain and simple. It unequivocally deserves to be as legendary as it is today.
Everything here was basically on the 2008 Anniversary Edition. This being the first time the film is on Blu-Ray, that’s perfectly fine by me. The Making of The Big Lebowski is good, if taken from even earlier releases. 25 minutes of what you’d expect from a making-of. There’s an excerpt from The Achiever, a documentary about Lebowski Fest. It’s a great, interesting look at how the festival has grown over the years and I’m definitely interested to see the whole film sometime. The Big Lebowski: Ten Years Later has cast interviews, of course, and a very sweaty John Goodman. And there’s a featurette discussing the two dream sequences that The Dude has and how the actors and Coen Brothers remember them. As I mentioned before, this thing has some great packaging; there have been Blu-Ray books before, but the information packed inside (a Rolling Stone article on the film) makes this one pretty special. The entire back of the case is The Dude’s rug. There’s a digital copy of the film which is so commonly the case these days with almost every major Blu-Ray release, but me personally, I’ve never had much use for those. It’s probably because I don’t travel a lot. It’s the kind of thing that’s nice to have access to but for me is not very practical.
Out of a Possible 5 Stars