Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

The Big Lebowski


Here’s another one that I didn’t appreciate enough the first time around. I console myself by knowing I’m in good company. A fair number of critics either roasted it or dismissed it, then came back later with a reassessment. Here’s an example, from Wiki:

Peter Howell, in his review for the Toronto Star, wrote, “It’s hard to believe that this is the work of a team that won an Oscar last year for the original screenplay of Fargo. There’s a large amount of profanity in the movie, which seems a weak attempt to paper over dialogue gaps.” Howell revised his opinion in a later review, and more recently stated that “it may just be my favourite Coen Bros. film.

That’s quite a turnaround. I recall many people doing similar about-faces for 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Bonnie and Clyde, films I loved instantly. We all make mistakes.

This is the story of Jeff “The Dude” Lebowski, who early on is mistaken by some seriously dumb thugs for a very rich asshole of the same name. He and his bowling buddies, including Steve Buscemi and John Goodman in one of his patented scary maniac roles, set out to … well, I’m not really sure, and neither are they. Their misadventures pile on each other and are very funny. And that’s basically it.

Who knew it would turn into a giant cult classic? The story is only the surface. It all revolves around Jeff Bridges and his amazing performance as the laid-back Dude. He slouches through the role, looking half asleep most of the time, and it’s perfect. He really just doesn’t seem to want to be bothered by life and its strife. He’s content to bowl every night, smoke sweet dope, and make it through the day moderately unscathed, taking it easy, going with the flow. Did you know there is a semi-joke religion now, called Dudeism, or The Church of the Latter-Day Dude? I didn’t, either. They claim over 100,000 ordained priests. Holy Cow! All from one little film!