The Big Lebowski

The Big Lebowski is the Coen brothers at their best—filled with hilarious (yet foul-mouthed) dialogue that’s so legendary there are several websites dedicated to quoting the film online and a zoo worthy cast of odd characters ranging from a John Milius inspired Vietnam survivalist (John Goodman), Nazi nihilists, a pornographer, a feminist artist, a pederast bowler, a young trophy wife, and many more. The plot, inspired by Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep, takes the idea of Philip Marlowe and like Altman did with The Long Goodbye, completely twists everything around. Our hero is Jeff Bridges as The Dude a.k.a. Jeff Lebowski, who after being mistaken for a millionaire is angered when thugs urinate on his rug while erroneously trying to collect money. The rug is a favorite of Dude’s and since it “really tied the room together,” he goes to the real Lebowski to ask for compensation. The rug serves as a metaphor, leading the Dude on a magic-carpet ride of a plot involving a kidnapping that gets more and more ridiculously complicated every five minutes (in a nod to Chandler’s epic plots that in the end, didn’t really matter). The film has become a cultural touchstone for American films and something of a hip litmus test among film geeks (there’s even a Lebowski film festival). It’s definitely the funniest (and strangest) work the Coens have made thus far but definitely wouldn’t be the best, mostly because the plot is so strange (filled with some surreal dreams and shocking turns of events) that to some critics, it seems like too much creativity run amok.