REWIND: THE BIG LEBOWSKI [1998]

I watched this film for perhaps the fifth or sixth time the other day, and I somehow had forgotten how surreal it is. From the beginning we have a nameless narrator telling us about about a man who goes by ‘The Dude’, who has his rug pissed on within the first few minutes. Damnit, they pissed on his rug!! Has any other movie opened in such a bizarre fashion?!

Soon we have nihilists who are often confused with nazis and we have the bizarre artist played by Julianne Moore. We have the plain weird bowler (who also happens to be a sex offender) who calls himself Jesus, with a creepy dance to go with his bowling skills. Aaaand of course we have poor Donnie. Who could forget about Donnie.

“Shut the fuck up Donnie!!”

Sorry! Jeez…

This is definitely the most bizarre film to come from the Coens, just outgunning Burn After Reading. It is also their funniest film, again slightly ousting Burn After Reading and of course Fargo. John Goodman as Walter is a constant hoot every time he opens his mouth. As for The Dude, he is just a lazy man who wanted compensation, as they PISSED ON HIS RUG!! But he got so, so much more than he wanted. If only he had let it all go! Yeah sure, the rug really tied the room together, we get it Dude, but if you’d just let it be you wouldn’t have gotten yourself into such a mess!

Julianne Moore’s character – Maude – is one of the strangest characters I have seen in a Coen film, and she has some STRONG opposition. Stranger still is the dream sequence that involves Maude, just after The Dude’s drink is spiked.

For those who don’t remember, here it is: The Gutterballs!

Boy, The Dude really does love bowling. He even gets his shoes from Saddam Hussein! And Jeff Bridges has some moves! His dance down those stairs is hysterical. What is funnier still is his absent facial expression, eyes glazed over with a giant grin on his face. But those nihilists, they sneaked into The Dude’s dream!! No!! Why are they wearing skin-tight, red outfits? And WHAT are those huge scissors for?!

The best part about this sequence is the psychedelic track played. I don’t know who it is by, and I probably should, but the lyrics “I just dropped in, to see what condition my condition was in” are so apt given the point the movie is at, and how trippy the entire sequence and song is.

This is also another film where Philip Seymour Hoffman plays a small role but steals every scene he is in. Since I am running a small PSH blogathon, I thought I’d also focus a bit on his small but memorable role. At times he is the over-polite servant, but when the story goes south his attitude changes completely. It is hard not to laugh when sitting in a limousine, his character explains the situation to The Dude, calling him ‘Dude’ with a perfectly straight face.

“Her life is in your hands, Dude.”

“That had not occurred to us, Dude”

The way he casually calls him Dude, as if it was his actual name, never ceases to crack me up. On the other hand, the way he acts awkwardly during certain scenes is executed perfectly. The way his face goes red,the way he adjusts his glasses, it is the work of a genius. He only appears in around five scenes but he and Jeff Bridges play off each other in hilarious fashion.

I assume this is the most well known movie by the Coens, but is it their best?? From Blood Simple to Inside Llewyn Davis, it has some sturdy competition.

Which Coen brothers movie is your favourite? And why?

34 Comments on “REWIND: THE BIG LEBOWSKI [1998]

  1. Well, I can clear something up for you. The song in the dream sequence is “Just Dropped In” by Kenny Rogers & The First Edition. It is immaculate! Everything about this movie is weird and fun and hilarious and badass. My roommate and I watched this movie on repeat in college. I’ve seen it dozens of times and it never gets old. Great write-up! I love your appreciation of this one. And PSH is so great in his small role as Brandt. I left that one out of my massive post for your blogathon, but it could easily be there. One of his greatest roles as the true character actor he was!

    My favorite Coen Brothers film is and has always been Fargo. I love its subtle humor, its increasingly excessive violence, and those accents, man. Frances McDormand’s work in that movie is unmatched in its singularity. No role has or ever will be like it, except on FX’s TV version, which is quite good in its own right. Can’t wait for the next season of that one.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for reading Kevin! And cheers for the tip on that song, I’ll have to find some more like it. You’re right, this movie can never get old.

      Fargo is indeed great, I don’t know if I’d have it at #1 or #2, but one of those. I loved the series, Billy Bob was just pure awesome. It will be interesting how they approach the second season

      Like

  2. The Big Lebowski is pretty damn awesome and is one of their strangest for sure, but I think I’m a bigger fan of No Country for Old Men. That is hard to beat.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Great post although I’m on a slight disagreement with you. I know this movie is greatly adored but I honestly don’t see how it ranks as the Coens best efforts. I thought it was middling at best. My favorites would have to be Fargo, Barton Fink and No Country For Old Men because those films personify everything I love about these guys. The subtle and unpredictable violence, the razor-sharp dialogue. Not to forget, those are probably three of their best directed films.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Woo, great post Jordy!! The Dude Abides!!!!!!

    Love that you mentioned PSH as well, I often think of him as the butler, standing there all rigid!!! You’re right, it’s funny hearing him say “Dude” in such a relaxed manner.

    I must have watched The Big Lebowski, I dunno, 10 times? And I can honestly say, hand on heart, I’m STILL not entirely sure what happened. It’s such a weird, fucking complicated plot!!! But truly brilliant.

    Walter makes me laugh the most 🙂 “eight year olds dude….”

    Liked by 1 person

    • HAHA “eight year olds…” classic.

      Have you seen Inherent Vice? Its similar to this but the plot is even more complicated… though thats kinda on purpose as Joaquin Phoenix’s character is perpetually stoned. Its a great flick

      Liked by 1 person

      • Perpetually stoned? That’s me! Ha ha.

        I haven’t, but I’ll look it up now, you’re increasing my watch list this week Jordy!! 🙂

        I know!! “eight year olds dude” I love that scene so much, you know when The Jesus dances? It’s all their faces that crack me up! The Dude looks nonchalant, unimpressed. Donnie looks kind of star struck, confused but entranced. And then Walter at the end just looks fucking furious!! I love it 🙂

        Like

      • I will do, thanks! (but not before Wolf Creek 2!) Only if you watch that Jesus scene very soon and look at all their faces haha

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hehe I just did, you’re right!! Hahaha they all have these odd looks on their faces. When Walter pulled a gun out that cracked me up too. Such a good movie!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yay!!!!!! 😀 ah I wish we could watch it together with a beer!

        “does no-one give a shit about the rules!!”

        Like

  5. Pingback: HAIL, CAESER! [2016] | epileptic moondancer

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