Wednesday, March 12, 2008

REVIEW: The Big Lebowski

The Big Lebowski

Year: 1998
Director: Ethan Coen & Joel Coen
Starring: Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman
Distributor: Universal Pictures
MPAA: Rated R

The Big Lebowski is one of those rare films that only come around once in awhile. The film that was released in 1998 bombed at the box office by only grossing an estimated $17 million on a $15 million budget. While the film wasn't a box office hit, it did manage to pass its budget. The numbers don't really mean anything though because its all about the critics and fans. The Big Lebowski has an enormous fan base and the critics have been positive about the film since its release. Having reviewed the Coen brother's Award winning film "No Country for Old Men" in late January, I was craving for some more. Their was no doubt in my mind that I was going to eventually review The Big Lebowski seeing how its been the Coen brother's most famous film.

Plot Outline:
Jeff Lebowski a.k.a. The Dude (Jeff Bridges) is mistaken for a millionaire of the same name whose wife owes money to a pornographer. The Dude is an unemployed layabout who bowls with his two friends Walter (John Goodman) and Donny (Steve Buscemi). Walter is a short-tempered Vietnam vet who uses his military service to justify his behavior. He constantly yells at Donny for no real reason and waves guns at minor bowling infractions. The Dude finds himself caught up in the Big Lebowski's ransom as the millionaire hires him to give the ransom to the kidnappers who kidnapped his wife, Bunny (Tara Reid). Not everything goes as planned and The Dude finds himself in alot of trouble.

The story starts off pretty quickly and goes on from their. I loved the plot of the movie and found the story to be pretty hilarious in some ways. I was somewhat soured by the ending in the Coen brothers recent film, No Country for Old Men. I found the ending to be sudden and something the audience might not have wanted. Luckily, that doesn't happen here. The ending for The Big Lebowski seems just about right for this movie. Its nothing special or bad that the audience is going to dislike. The characters that the story introduces us to are just wonderful in their own ways. Each character plays a specific role in the movie and each are important for the films story to work. I can sit here all day telling you how much I enjoyed the story. It was only 20 minutes into the film that I knew this was going to be a great film. The level of interest that the movie has stays high so it keeps the viewer interested. This is one of those movies that you tend to enjoy and appreciate the more you watch it.

Jeff Bridges plays as Jeffrey Lebowski/The Dude and he gives a great performances that I just loved. I thought he did a good job in the movie Tron when I reviewed it last month, but he does an even better job in this movie. This is probably his best performance that I have seen of him. John Goodman plays as Walter Sobchak and he gives a great performance too as a slow thinking friend of The Dude. The chemistry he has with Bridges is great and it really makes him a great supporting actor in the movie. Steve Buscemi plays as Donny Kerabatsos and he does a pretty good job in his role. He doesn't say much in the film so I cant give him a bad or good score. We also have Julianne Moore playing as Maude Lebowski and her role in the film is great. She has a lovely accent that seems to fit her character very well. Philip Seymour Hoffman plays as Brandt who's the servant of The Big Lebowski and hes character is flat out funny. He has many funny lines in the movie that seems to suit him well.

The visual look of the film isn't something to brag about. The movie is mostly filmed in in door areas so what we get are mostly the parts in the bowling ally and the dream sequences. However, for a film of its age, The Big Lebowski looks great. The movie was recently remaster and released as a special edition set courtesy of Universal Pictures. The colors look wonderful and bright. The dream sequences look much cleaner and more vivid than ever. Their is also a pretty good amount of detail in the picture. Places like the bowling alley feature sharp images that look good. Facial detail is also pretty good that you can see almost every piece of hair on The Dude's face. This is NOT be all means a movie you would use to demo to your friends, but the film look quite good for a films of its age.

I criticized the Coen's No Country for Old Men for not having music in the movie. I thought it was kind of stupid that their wasn't any music in the movie except for the credits. That however is not the case here as The Big Lebowski features some great music. The music is composed by Carter Burwell who also composed No Country for Old Men, but this time it looks like he actually meant for The Big Lebowski to have music. The movie doesn't have a score per say, but it does have a soundtrack that's mostly a mix between old 90's and probably some 80's music. This works really well with the film and is something you tend to like after hearing it for awhile. The movie doesn't feature any good bass work considering this is a dialogue oriented film so bass here wouldn't really feel right. The dialogue in the film is also some of the best I have ever heard.

The Big Lebowski is a fantastic film that I think just about any adult would enjoy. The story of the film is great with the plot featuring some of the best dialogue I have ever heard. The cast is simply perfect with the cast members giving out great performances. The visual look of the film has been remastered and it looks pretty good for a film of its age. The soundtrack in the film is great with alot of mixed music being used very effectively even though the film doesn't feature a score. This is film that I highly recommend watching over again and again because the story becomes more clearer the more you watch it. The Big Lebowski is now one of my favorite films of all time. Give my appreciation to the Coen brothers for making this film.

Grade: B+

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