When the Coen brothers won an Oscar for writing the movie “Fargo”, people had really high expectations about their next film. That film turned out to be “The Big Lebowski” and dude is it crass. It’s like Coens decided to replace every comma with f@#$, or $!## if they were bored. Also, when the story begins with a guy getting a swirly, doesn’t help it not sound like the next Appatow picture.
The story is about Jeff Lebowski aka “The Dude,” his hobbies include smoking marijuana, competitive bowling and remaining unemployed. But all of a sudden, two loan sharks break into his house, beat him up and pee on his rug and to add insult to injury, they actually visited the wrong Lebowski. Apparently, there is another Jeffery Lebowski whose wife owes them money. Then in The Dude’s effort to seek compensation for his rug (it really did tie the room together) he gets caught in an elaborate kidnapping plot that involves nihilists, feminist artists, a porn producer and a green toe. The Dude’s friends (played by Steve Buscemi and John Goodman) even try to help out but they seem to define counterproductive. While this plot is definitely inspired, there are some pacing issues. Luckily there are plenty of great characters that range from odd to just plain psychotic.
The Coens are some kind of mad geniuses because while their dialogue vulgar it still contains some very intelligent wit that actually makes their characters sound like ordinary people. Of course this would be useless without great performances. Both John Turturro, Philip S. Hoffman really make the most of a small role. Steve Buscemi plays against type as a naïve optimist who doesn’t really talk. John Goodman just explodes with such intense anger, but of course the man of the hour is Jeff Bridges. He is hilarious (obviously) in every scene that he is in, but that’s not point since anyone can play a slacker. It is his friendly demeanor, how he stammers through of the dialogue, his baffling reactions and… %$#@ it’s just a really good performance.
Ever since the 1960s, there have been many comedies about marijuana users. But out of all the stoner comedies (sorry Cheech & Chong) “The Big Lebowski” is the only one that actually has a plot, a weak one but it exists. And with help of great performances and a script soaked in bong water it gets 4 out of five.