The Big Lebowski (1998)

R   |    |  Comedy, Crime


The Big Lebowski (1998) Poster

Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski, mistaken for a millionaire of the same name, seeks restitution for his ruined rug and enlists his bowling buddies to help get it.

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  • Jeff Bridges and John Goodman in The Big Lebowski (1998)
  • Jeff Bridges and John Goodman in The Big Lebowski (1998)
  • Jeff Bridges and John Goodman at an event for The Big Lebowski (1998)
  • Jeff Bridges and John Goodman in The Big Lebowski (1998)
  • Julianne Moore at an event for The Big Lebowski (1998)
  • Jeff Bridges and John Goodman in The Big Lebowski (1998)

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A Guide to the Films of the Coen Brothers

From Blood Simple to the new The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, we take a look at the offbeat stylings of Academy Award-winners Joel and Ethan Coen.

Dude, let's go bowling

Cast & Crew

Top Billed Cast



Directors:

Joel Coen , Ethan Coen

Writers:

Ethan Coen, Joel Coen

Reviews & Commentary

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User Reviews


13 December 2004 | track1646
That Rug Really Tied the Room Together
Acting is one of the most key elements to success or failure of a film. Some film types can survive without superb acting. These motion pictures can entertain the viewer with special effects or intense action scenes. A film based on heavy dialog and back-story can not survive with out excellent actors. One such movie that meets the dialog-based criterion is The Big Lebowski. The film follows Jeff 'The Dude' Lebowski (Jeff Bridges) and his two close friends through a not so normal chain of events. The story is augmented by the supporting characters Walter (John Goodman) and Donny (Steve Buscemi). Written by Joel and Ethan Coen, the creative forces behind Fargo, the intriguing story succeeds because of the actors' impeccable skill.

As with many other films by the Coen brothers The Big Lebowski is an odd array of out of the ordinary characters slapped right in the middle of an improbable situation. The Dude is an unlikely hero living in the city of Los Angeles who becomes embroiled in a botched kidnapping. This is not the average kidnapper comedy that has been seen a thousand times before. The Coen brothers take a fresh look at an old tired subject. The story they have created is intriguing and entertaining, but the true entertainment comes from the unique characters. Walter, played by John Goodman, is a Vietnam veteran who seems to have some parts of post traumatic stress syndrome. Donny, another one of The Dude's close friends, is a quiet unassuming character who often interjects into conversation, but no one pays close attention to what he says.

As well as these characters are written, they would not be as effective had they been played by other actors. This effectiveness of acting can be seen in the opening scene at the bowling alley where the supporting characters are first introduced. This scene is comprised of Donny, Walter, and The Dude sitting at their lane in the bowling alley discussing the attack on The Dude by some hired thugs (7min 25 sec). The Dude is approaching the situation in his usual lackadaisical way. Jeff Bridges conveys The Dude's overall demeanor in his laid back, sauntering, walk. Although being laid back, Bridges is direct in his speaking showing that The Dude is not the average confused old stoner. Bridges facial expressions during this scene show The Dude is distressed about the loss of his rug which 'tied the room together.'

Donny seems to be an outside observer in this scene and throughout much of the film. Buscemi conveys his character's attention during discussion by following the flow of the conversation with his head. He looks from The Dude to Walter and from Walter to The Dude depending on who is talking. He may seem to be paying attention, but his asking of simple questions dispels this assumption. Another technique Buscemi uses is while he is observing the conversation he furrows his brow as if in deep thought and contemplation. This look of concentration is juxtaposed with the look of confused happiness, an empty smile, Buscemi uses when Donny makes a point in the conversation. These techniques which are introduced by Bridges and Buscemi early in the film are used throughout the entire picture.

Although Bridges and Buscemi do an excellent job of introducing their characters traits to the viewer, Goodman superbly shows his character's inner traits. Throughout the conversation it is apparent due to dialog that Walter is becoming upset. Goodman conveys this anger with facial expressions and body movement. In the early part of the conversation Goodman puts on a stone face to show that Walter is firmly set in his position. The Dude begins to agitate Walter as the conversation continues. Goodman shows this agitation by furrowing his brow, leaning forward while talking, and turning progressively redder. As Goodman continues, his speaking becomes more staccato and flustered. When The Dude refers to one of the attackers as 'the china man,' Walter continues on his tirade momentarily then quietly addresses the non politically correct nature of The Dude's comment. Changing from this aggravated manner of speaking to a more politically correct and lower tone shows that Walter has some sudden mood swings and a short fuse, as he returns to his tirade quickly.

This scene exemplifies the acting skills of John Goodman, Jeff Bridges, and Steve Buscemi. The characters in this story have been given interesting and entertaining dialog by the writers, but it is up to the actors to make the characters exude a certain feeling or trait. In each of their roles the three main actors add a level of feeling to the characters that is lacking from many of the offerings of the dark comedy genre. Goodman's portrayal of Walter as the 'know it all' with a short fuse is downright hilarious. Jeff Bridges steps out of his usually serious persona to portray a character as laid back as they come, 'quite possibly the laziest in Los Angeles county.' Steve Buscemi is as entertaining as ever. His depiction of Donny, the character to rarely speak, adds depth to an otherwise bland side character. After viewing this film one can see why actors who can actually practice their craft are worth their weight in gold.

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Did You Know?

Trivia

The Dude meets a lot of new people throughout the story, outside his "tribe". But only four, Brandt, Jackie Treehorn, the bartender in the bowling alley, and The Stranger (Sam Elliott) show enough "respect" for him to call him "Dude".


Quotes

The Stranger: Way out west there was this fella... fella I wanna tell ya about. Fella by the name of Jeff Lebowski. At least that was the handle his loving parents gave him, but he never had much use for it himself. Mr. Lebowski, he called himself "The Dude". Now...


Goofs

When the Dude calls Walter on Shabbas to pick him up after helping Maude conceive, his mouth eventually stops matching his words.


Crazy Credits

Production Goddess ... Karyn Anonia


Alternate Versions

When Comedy Central, in removing the 200+ "fucks" from the movie, was attempting to edit the scene where Walter is smashing the car, they didn't know how to cut Walter saying "do you see what happens when you fuck a stranger in the ass" without having to do severe, overly obvious editing which would look fake. To solve this they decided just to re-dub it, and the phrase they chose? "Do you see what happens when you find a stranger in the Alps?".


Soundtracks

Glück das mir verblieb
from the Opera "Die tote Stadt"
Written and Conducted by
Erich Wolfgang Korngold
Performed by Ilona Steingruber, Anton Dermota and Österreichischer Rundfunk (as the Austrian State Radio Orchestra)
Used by permission of European American Music Distributors Corporation, Agent for Schott Musik International
Courtesy of Cambria Master Recordings

Storyline

Plot Summary


Synopsis (WARNING: Spoilers)


Genres

Comedy | Crime

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