The Big Lebowski 4.0 stars

Big Lebowski movie poster

There are actually two Lebowskis, a big one and a little one, a multimillionaire philanthropist and a lazy, laid-back bowler, both christened Jeffrey; and when the latter — who prefers to be addressed as "the Dude" — is mistaken for the other by a pair of dim-bulb thugs, he is pulled into an apparent kidnapping plot of rapidly deepening complexity: "a lot of ins, a lot of outs, a lot of what-have-yous." The Coen brothers, writer-director Joel and writer-producer Ethan, are here having fun with, among other things, complexity per se. Fun with the very idea of complexity. Fun with the concrete and mountainous evidence of complexity. And one of the richest sources of fun, played off in the sharpest contrast to complexity, is the glorious spectrum of stupidity on exhibit: the dope-addled but gropingly rational Dude (Jeff Bridges); the big lug who is always absolutely sure he is right in spite of the fact that he has never been right yet (John Goodman); the woolgatherer who falls behind in the slowest of conversations (Steve Buscemi); the several teams of hired "muscle" (all brawn, no brains), one team of which are self-styled Nihilists; the nympho bimbo; the adolescent joyrider who afterwards forgets his corrected homework ("Use a dictionary," "Spelling") in the abandoned car. The complexity is no illusion. It is right there in front of us in frightening and multiplying detail. It brutally illuminates the stupidity. And at the same time it forms the philosophical foundation for a broad and accepting, if aloof and frosty, view of humankind. The Coens — who better? who else? — are able to make wonderful sport of deadbeats and boneheads from the high ground of diligence and ingenuity. They never play "down" to the audience. They demand effort and intelligence, and they reward these by the truckload: lively characterizations, flavorful dialogue, dense atmosphere, clever and convoluted plotting, rich and well-developed themes, abundant allusions, "in" jokes, grace notes, and red herrings, each element teamed with the others in common purpose. Julianne Moore, David Huddleston, Sam Elliott, Peter Stormare, Ben Gazzara, John Turturro, Jimmie Dale Gilmore. 1998.

Duncan Shepherd

  • Rated R | 1 hour, 57 minutes

Showtimes

Cinema Under the Stars

4040 Goldfinch Street, San Diego, 619-295-4221 | Directions

Saturday, December 27

8:00pm

Comments

David Dodd July 17, 2010 @ 3:58 a.m.

I finally got around to seeing this, twelve years later. Never imagined Shephard giving this four stars, but I had to look it up and see, and I'm pleasantly surprised. Only thing this film could have done without was the few odd scenes which included a flying carpet over Los Angeles, some sort of showgirl sequence (complete with "Dude" sliding down a bowling lane in slow-motion), et. al. (this would have better been filled with some narrative from Elliot). Otherwise, there was much brilliance in this, in the way that all of these characters wanted to define justice and fairness, if there could be such a definition, then comparative conceit would be it. It played off of several themes, using the illusion of wealth (the rich not having their own money but playing on someone elses), power as a corrupting device (greed, and the substitution of art in order justify the greed), and finding relative safety and security (bowling, in this case). Bridges was brilliant and played off of Goodman as well as can be done. Remember, this wasn't really a story about something so complex as the relationships between the unemployed bum, the thugs, the psuedo-wealthy; it's simply a story about a guy who got his rug peed on.

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MsGrant July 17, 2010 @ 9:06 a.m.

You finally watched it, refried. The brilliance of this movie is, quite frankly, the laugh out loud dialogue between the characters and the visual clues to their personalities. The bathrobe with the Adidas flip-flops, Jesus's rolled-up shirt-sleeves, Walter's vest, there are just so many. There is so much more, and people have probably written their master's thesis on this movie, but it just makes me laugh. When The Dude wrecks his car after dropping the joint in his lap is one of the funniest scenes I have ever watched in a movie.

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sublimeade July 18, 2010 @ 12:39 p.m.

You guys should use "brilliance" more often, there aren't enough people out there using it to describe every damn movie.

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MsGrant July 18, 2010 @ 2:54 p.m.

Touche - I spent a couple of weeks in Ireland and it stuck.

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David Dodd July 19, 2010 @ 9:37 a.m.

sublimeade: Were I a professional movie critic, I would certainly unload every contrived and mostly meaningless metaphor for every aspect of a film's description and ensure that I never repeat a single one. But since you get this for free and I provide it in a five-minute window with no editing, you get "brilliant" rather than any effort to copy the stylings of Duncan Shepherd.

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nan shartel July 19, 2010 @ 10:02 p.m.

REFRIED U REALLY GOT A KNACK TO KICK IT UP A NOTCH AND KICK IT BACK...I LOVED THIS MOVIE AND I STILL CAN'T FIGURE OUT WHY...HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHASH

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David Dodd July 19, 2010 @ 10:04 p.m.

I might have never watched it except that several in here suggested I did, nan. Then of course, I had to look up Duncan's review. It was brilliant ;)

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nan shartel July 20, 2010 @ 1:03 p.m.

brilliant is a perfectly lovely British term that covers everything from fine fresh wine to hot ambitious sex!!!

frankly i think the word brilliant is brilliant..hahahahahahaha

especially said with that breathy quality and flushed cheek the English often have when over excited:-O

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GeorgeM Oct. 7, 2010 @ 7:30 a.m.

While this ain't Nam, and there are rules here, perhaps there ought to be a new one:

Anyone with an IQ lower than Duncan's should be neutered!

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