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The Big Lebowski (1998)

Director: Joel Coen
Sceenplay: Ethan and Joel Coen

Jeff Bridges:
Jeffrey Lebowski "The Dude." an aging flower child who toils not, neither does he spin
John Goodman:
Walter Sobchack a know-it-all Vietnam veteran who suffers bouts of PTSS
David Huddleston:
The Big Lebowski, the Dude's namesake; supposedly a wealthy philanthropist
Tara Reid:
Bunny Lebowski, the Big Lebowski's nymphomanic trophy wife
Julianne Moore:
Maude Lebowski, the Big Lebowski's free-spirited daughter
John Turturro:
Jesus Quintana, pedophile and bowler extraordinaire

This Coen Brothers creation is the weirdest movie I've seen since watching David Lynch's Blue Velvet (1989) in a film course.

Unlike Blue Velvet, The Big Lebowski is a film I could enjoy watching a second time.

Bridges and Goodman are perfect foils. The Bridges character, "The Dude," lives for the present. He has a comfortable house, no visible means of support, and numerous friends. His most demanding occupation is that of bowling. He is totally laid back, whereas the Goodman character is wound tight as spring.

The movie has a plot, but it is of small importance next to the characterization of the Dude, Sobchack, and their insignificant friend Donny (Steve Buscemi).

The plot is a kind of shaggy dog story in which controlling, loud-mouth Sobchak complicates the Dude's simple life with his angry, vindictive attitudes. What begins as an effort to obtain restitution for a ruined rug, ends ends not only in the destruction of all of the Dude's home furnishings and his car, but also with the death of one of his friends.

Several enchanting dream sequences, in which the Dude floats through the air, contrast with the more prosaic scenes set in the bowling alley. The dreams even seem to merge with the story when eccentric feminist Maude Lebowski flies naked overhead, suspended by pulleys.

Cameos by Sam Elliott and John Turturo delight without adding anything to the story. Elliott speaks the Voice Over film prologue and later appears at the bowling alley snack bar to interact with the Dude and to deliver an epilogue.

Turturo prances around the bowling alley in tight-fitting purple coveralls embroidered with the name "Jesus." The outfit shows off his long, lank body which he moves like a dancer.

Viewers who have a problem with language may not want to watch this movie. The the F word is spoken so often that it comes to have absolutely no shock value left.

For those of us who are still capable of going with the flow, The Big Lebowski is pretty funny. I continue to be awed by the unique thought processes of the Coen Brothers. And, like the Stranger, I'm glad to know that the Duke abides.


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