49 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of those change-your-life movies
"The Big Lebowski" is just perfect. Everything about this movie is a laugh riot, even the bits of dialogue that aren't punchlines. The cast is perfect, the writing is perfect... this movie has both Julianne Moore and Flea in it, what other movies can you say that about? Well, there was the Gus Van Sant "Psycho" remake, but that doesn't count. I found this movie by...
Published on February 26, 2006 by Jason A. Miller
620 of 734 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I'm rating the bowling ball special edition DVD, NOT the movie!
The Big Lebowski is on my top ten list of all time best films. I've seen A LOT of films by the way. I don't need to explain to anyone why this movie is so brilliant, and why it continues to be a cultural phenomenon. I mention these things first because I don't want people to feel like I'm giving the film one star. If I could I would give the movie 100 stars. What I'm...
Published on September 10, 2008 by M. Fulkerson
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620 of 734 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I'm rating the bowling ball special edition DVD, NOT the movie!,
This review is from: The Big Lebowski - 10th Anniversary Limited Edition (DVD)The Big Lebowski is on my top ten list of all time best films. I've seen A LOT of films by the way. I don't need to explain to anyone why this movie is so brilliant, and why it continues to be a cultural phenomenon. I mention these things first because I don't want people to feel like I'm giving the film one star. If I could I would give the movie 100 stars. What I'm giving such a poor review for is my distaste for movie studios pumping out special editon dvd's every few years because they know a film has a huge following. This new "bowling ball" edition of Lebowski is further proof that Universal has nothing but contempt for the fans of Big Lebowski. They wrap it up in a nice big package and make it look slick, but that's as far as the creativity goes into supplying anything new in terms of extras. Does anyone remember the terrible repackage they gave it a few years ago with a towel and coasters? No actual extras existed, but they still put it out as a revamped "deluxe edition". Well, don't expect much more here.
The only new extras to this edition are four very brief featurettes. They feature new interviews with all of the major players (with the exception of the Coen brothers, of course), but they mostly just sit around and say stuff like, "It's a great film! It's hilarious! Coen Brothers are geniuses!". Err, yeah, we know all of that. It also has a featurette that centers around the Lebowski Fest which is vaguely interesting for a few minutes until it turns into the same old "Lebowski is great!" territory. The featurettes are a snooze fest to say the least.
What really annoyed me with this DVD, though, is that they included the SAME "Making of Big Lebowski" documentary that has been on every release of this film! Not only that, it looks as if it was recorded from an old VHS tape and plastered onto a full screen format. It looks horrible, and what's more, we've all seen it before! How many times is Universal going to pump out the same damn extras to the same audience?? It's an insult to be charged more and more money for the same mediocre extras that were never that good to begin with. Luckily I was able to rent this and didn't actually buy it! "The Big Lebowski" will NEVER have proper extras until the people who created it (the Coen Brothers) are involved. We want a commentary, a full length documentary with in-depth interviews, and deleted scenes (and plenty of them!).
DON'T BUY THIS EDITION. It's junk! Simply keep the edition you already have (the very first edition) safely knowing that you are not missing anything with any other edition!
49 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of those change-your-life movies,
Every time I go back to "Lebowski" I come away with something new that wasn't there before. Like the realization, this time around, that Jeff Bridges is not seen to throw a single bowling ball in the entire movie. And that Steve Buscemi's character rolls a strike every time we see him... except for the very final scene, for reasons that become clear a few moments later.
The rest of the cast is just superb. Remember Philip Seymour Hoffman as an unctuous PR man? I'd forgotten about that. Jon Polito (late of "Homicide") shows up as a P.I. in a familiar-looking purple VW bug. Even Aimee Mann is in one scene, speaking German. Oh, and Tara Reid, before her career completely and utterly collapsed. Top supporting honors go to Sam Elliott, who according to the DVD documentary wasn't even sure what he was doing in the movie, but his opening narration gets funnier every time out ("And in English, too!").
Another great thing is the dialogue. You'd think the whole movie was done by improv, the way the dialogue is so natural. Every character has their own particular jargon, and just like in real life, people keep repeating phrases they've heard elsewhere. Jeff Bridges can't seem to finish a sentence, and neither can Steve Buscemi, although that's because John Goodman won't let him. George Bush gets quoted a lot ("This aggression will not stand, man").
Finally, I love the totally unglamorous portrayal of L.A. and Hollywood, limited to tiny theaters, a seedy bowling alley, a weapons store in the barrio, and the In 'n Out Burger (on Camrose). The actor and artist type characters who show up are all obnoxious or pathetic, particularly David Thewlis's "video artist", and the chubby dancer/landlord who forgoes collecting rent from the Dude so long as the Dude shows up for his performances. Not to mention Karl Hungus and the great Ben Gazarra cameo.
But in the end, Jeff Bridges is the glue holding this movie together... and John Goodman... and John Turturro... and... and... aah! Lost my train of thought here. But... ah, [...], I've done introduced 'em enough.
192 of 236 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Do not buy this if you already own the previous DVD release,
Shame on Universal and Focus Features.
30 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Coens And 'California Crazy'!,
The Coens' penchant for offbeat characters is having a field day here, with everyone in the cast allowed to vent in a kind of wacko 'Disneyland on the strip' approach to making the endless days of gorgeous LA sunshine pass, as our protagonist finds trouble in the promised land. Particularly memorable here is John Goodman weighing in as the paranoid and unpredictably violent Walter Sobchak, the `Dude's' best friend and perpetual bowling partner. The holy ceremony of bowling and the seriousness that it plays in the lives of the several losers like the Dude, Sobchak, and the preening eccentric Jesus Quintana (a wonderfully over-the-top John Turturro) and the rest of the motley crew on the Dude's team provides a kind of key that unlocks the mystery of their uniformly alienated, pointless, and directionless lives, as each tumbles from crisis to crisis, and with each attempt that Dude makes to cope with the circumstances that mysteriously start to swirl around his drug addled self-absorption and wake him into a groggy yet sober recognition that something very serious and potentially deadly is going on around him, he is repeatedly sabotaged and blind-sided by the myopic and near-psychotic antics of his friends.
Dude seems to approach crisis management as an exercise in spin control, and tries, sometimes quite ingeniously, to talk his way out of the staccato violence that punctuates his days with increasingly urgent frequency. But as the mystery deepens and Lebowski is sucked farther into the quicksand of coincidences, mistaken identities, and sheer madness that lurks just beneath the cover of these friendly skies, we are introduced to the powers and the principalities that are driving the madcap antics and the increasing shrill intensities of everyone but the Dude. The plot often seems disjointed, yet in a macabre way that seems to shout that not only is truth sometimes stranger than fiction, it is sometimes absolutely insane. Yet it eventually resolves itself into a semi-rational resemblance to plausible reality, or at least almost. And one walks way from the outstanding ensemble cast's performance thinking that something magic and allegorical has happened here, and it is perhaps exactly the insanity of the proceeding activity that is the point. They are indeed, every last one of them, just California crazy! This is a wild roller coaster of a film experience, but one absolutely worth the taking. Buckle up, kids, you're in for a bumpy ride! Enjoy!
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A worthy Blu-ray,
This review is from: The Big Lebowski (Limited Edition) [Blu-ray Book + Digital Copy] (Blu-ray)The Big Lebowski doesn't need a review, so if you're here to read about the film, this won't be helpful. This is a review of the Blu-ray Limited Edition with book.
That being said, this is a very nice edition. The photographs in the book are great and are fun to see behind the scenes action, especially Jeff Bridges' photos. He's a talented photographer utilizing his unique pano camera.
The Blu-ray conversion is clean, crisp and well done. The picture and sound are excellent. The digital copy is a nice plus, but consider that the coupon expires on 12/31/12. Its more than a year away, but its worth noting in case it's something you forget to take advantage of.
However, my biggest complaint is this. The size of the book (which holds the physical disc) is actually just a little larger than standard Blu-ray cases. While this may not be a big deal to most people, if you're like me and have bookshelves fit to the height of a Blu-Ray, this movie can't stand on end. It has to be laid flat, or sideways on the shelf. It's a little thing, but for those with extensive collections on shelves, it can be annoying.
Overall, the Blu-ray edition is a nice step-up for those looking to upgrade their DVD or add it to their collection.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Classic film, but the Blu-ray presentation is merely adequate,
This review is from: The Big Lebowski (Limited Edition) [Blu-ray Book + Digital Copy] (Blu-ray)The Big Lebowski (Comedy, Crime)
Directed by Joel Coen and Ethan Coen
Starring Jeff Bridges, John Goodman and Steve Buscemi
Universal Studios | 1998 | 119 min | Rated R | Released Aug 16, 2011
Video codec: VC-1
Video resolution: 1080p
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
French: DTS 5.1
English SDH, French, Spanish
Single 50GB Blu-ray Disc
The Film 4/5
The Big Lebowski is essentially about mistaken identity if you care about the plot. Jeffrey Lebowski is known to his friends as The Dude (Bridges) and a gang of criminals pay him a visit thinking that he's another Lebowski who happens to be a millionaire. After they urinate on his rug, he seeks out the millionaire to claim compensation.
The millionaire's wife goes missing and the gang asks for a million dollars in ransom. The Dude is chosen as the courier.
That's about it. The plot is incidental; this is a movie about a way of life.
The Dude hangs out with two of his bowling buddies, Walter (Goodman) and Donny (Buscemi). Walter is a Vietnam veteran who has anger management issues; Donny hardly says a word and is told to shut up every time he tries to make a comment.
The Dude is a mellow kind of a guy. He shops in his robe, gets high, and talks like he's permanently stoned. Walter is a mystery to him because he is so easily annoyed. When a competing team puts a toe over the line during a bowling game, Walter pulls out a gun and insists that it is marked down as a zero. It's a league game after all.
The movie doesn't take itself too seriously and can be classed as a comedy more than anything, but the style of comedy may be different to the type you are used to. Many of the jokes are clever and subtle, and it's rare for the humor to be aimed too low.
Watching The Big Lebowski is an experience. You're never quite sure what it is or where it is going. The plot elements aren't very important, but everything adds up and provides a reason for the characters to do what they do. It's the sort of movie where nothing happens, but you find yourself thinking about it days later.
Fargo and No Country for Old Men are exceptional movies from the Coen Brothers, but many fans would argue that The Big Lebowski is better. I'm not among them, but it amuses me and I'm glad to finally own it on Blu-ray.
Video Quality 3.5/5
Although the Blu-ray is a vast upgrade over the DVD, I'm a little disappointed with the overall look. Colors are much improved and everything looks brighter and cleaner, but the VC-1 presentation could have been better. Fine detail is present in a few scenes, but is lacking for the most part. Faces in particular seem badly defined. It just about earns a passing grade, but don't expect to be dazzled.
Audio Quality 4.5/5
The English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track sounds great. The songs carry a lot more weight than in previous releases. Dialogue is clear throughout and the predominantly front-heavy mix blends well with the action. No complaints about the sound.
Special Features 4/5
Worthy Adversaries: What's My Line Trivia - A game for one or two players in which you have to supply missing dialogue from The Dude and Walter.
An Exclusive Introduction (4:40, SD)
The Dude's Life (10:08, HD)
The Dude Abides: The Big Lebowski Ten Years Later (10:26, HD)
Making of The Big Lebowski (24:35, SD)
The Lebowski Fest: An Achiever's Story (13:53, SD)
Flying Carpets and Bowling Pin Dreams: The Dream Sequences of The Dude (4:20, HD)
Jeff Bridges Photo Book (17:30, HD) - Bridges took shots while filming and explains them here.
Photo Gallery (3:25, SD)
U-Control: Three features with PiP, text and a profanity counter.
The Music of The Big Lebowski
Mark It, Dude
The Big Lebowski is a typically quirky effort from the Coen Brothers. While not their very best work, it deserves a place in your collection. Bridges and Goodman excel in their roles and hold the whole thing together. The Blu-ray presentation enhances the experience, but not quite as much as I had hoped. The packaging is good and there's plenty of behind the scenes information if The Big Lebowski is your kind of film.
Overall score 4/5
136 of 171 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lotta strands in the Duders head......,
What a mystery today would look like if Raymond Chandler was writing on Orange Sunshine. Following on their acclaimed hit, Fargo, the Coens, known for strange and offbeat films, on this outing went totally surreally weird. I confess I overlooked this film initially, despite being a Coen fan, but now I absolutely love it in all its idiosyncratic nuttiness. Worthy of multiple viewings just to savor the throwaway lines and the marvelously bizarre cameos by the Coen's repertory company (Buscemi, Turturro, Polito, Stormare etc.) and the drop-ins (Huddleston, Tara Reid, Gazzara, Moore & a wonderful Sam Elliott).
The plot, if you think one is necessary, has to do with The Dude (Jeff Bridges), an unreconstructed 60's throwback named Jeff Lebowski, being mistaken for a different, much richer Lebowski, and after being assaulted, his rug micturated upon and stolen (it ties the rooms together, man), begins a labyrinthine pursuit of the kidnapped wife of the Big Lebowski. Which of course, has nothing to do with the pleasures of this picture, which are the sidetrips and the characters, the asides, and the stuff thrown in just because its funny!
Jeff Bridges is perfect as The Dude. He knows this guy and he is this guy. The perfect foil to The Dude is John Goodman's Walter, a Viet Nam vet who's a seething mix of outward calm combined with an explosive temper and a penchant for wrong assumptions. These guys are great together.
Anyway, delineation and explanation is just plain silly for this movie. Just hop on and enjoy the ride and revel in the fact that the kitchen sink will come flying through at any moment. There is a complete logic to this kaleidescope, but who cares? Stay out of Malibu, Dude! And don't forget to go find a cash machine!
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Dude abides,
Remember that stoner guy in high school, the one with the flashes of wit and insight in between spaced-out ramblings about his favourite rock band? Well, then you are on your way to knowing Jeffrey "The Dude" Lebowski. Mistaken by collecting thugs for a richer, more married, other Jeffrey Lebowski, The Dude gets caught up in a kidnapping caper when all he really wants to do is bowl and own a urine-free rug that really holds the room together. His dialogue belies years of smoking jay and downing endless White Russians. But The Dude is no Spicoli retread, and he'd never be caught dead with Bill and Ted. Surprisingly, he's a man of substance.
His history, missed by me the first time around, plays a terribly important role in his character. There's the scene where he's in bed with Maude Lebowski (daughter of The Big Lebowski), where she point blank asks him about his past. Obscure references are made to the Port Huron Statement and the Seattle Seven, which indicates a fair measure of radicalism in Jeff's student days. But he also casually tells Brandt (The Big Lebowski's manservant) that his university days were spent, "occupying various, um, administration buildings, smoking thai-stick [and] breaking into the ROTC". So a social conscience was never far from young Jeff's thoughts. But now, some two decades later, he's burned out. It's the yearning for the casual lifestyle, free from stress and, quite frankly, thought, that is the main theme at the core of the movie.
Standing in The Dude's way are a series of supporting characters that make up a Raymond Chandleresque menagerie of society's oddest oddballs (a group of nihilists with a defined sense of fairness; a trust-fund performance artist; an old-school pornographer; a bowling child molester; a seemingly endless parade of carpet pissers). But they are less characters than roadblocks to The Dude's ultimate goal: a life of leisure.
Jeff Bridges, so adept at playing tormented angst ("The Fabulous Baker Boys", "The Fisher King"), proves that he has a deft comic touch, without ever being light. His Dude is a scruffy sloth, impatient with the world around him, but unable to figure out a viable way out of it. Bridges is truly hilarious here, never more so than with a simple expression near the end, when one character literally gets in his face. Assisting Bridges on his quest for leisure nirvana are John Goodman and Steve Buscemi. Goodman's Walter Sobchak is, if possible, even more over the top than The Dude. A conspiracy minded Vietnam vet, Sobchak is the raving id to The Dude's laid-back id, which makes them fast friends, and a terrible team. Buscemi, in what may be the most thankless role in the entire Coen canon, brings enough humanity to the eternally dim Donny that he becomes less a cipher and more an important friend. The rest of the cast is a fine mixture of Coen regulars, recognizable character actors, and even a couple of my favourite musicians in small cameos (look closely for Flea and Aimee Mann as two of the Nihilists).
But it's probably Sam Elliott who makes the most undeniable impression here, as a smooth talking cowboy enigmatically called "The Stranger". His thick southern drawl, bushy moustache, and constantly twinkling eyes brighten up the few brief scenes he's in. Ostensibly the narrator (and who else but the Coens could dream up a narrator who loses his train of thought?), Elliott appears once at the beginning, once in the middle, and once again at the end. He offers low-key charm for The Dude to play off of (one of my favourite jokes in the film:
THE STRANGER: One of those days, huh? Well, a wiser fellow than myself once said, sometimes you eat the bar and sometimes the bar, well, he eats you.
DUDE: Uh-huh. That some kind of Eastern thing? [Mike's note: Oh yeah! The whole Eastern philosophy thing is a great, subtle undercurrent throughout the film. The Dude abides, indeed. Catch him doing faux Tai Chi when he needs to mellow out more than the marijuana can handle.]
THE STRANGER: Far from it.).
Ultimately, I suppose, "Lebowski" is a product of the Coen Brothers' minds, and its laced with their particular obsessions, stylistic devices, and eclectic musical choices (imagine scoring a tense bowling moment with a flamenco version of "Hotel California"). If you've enjoyed the Coens' anti-filmmaking in the past, and are prepared for an even more extreme example of it, take a quick trip with The Dude and Co. You'll surely enjoy the ride.
(The DVD doesn't have much in the way of features, except for a nifty 30-minute interview with Joel and Ethan Coen. It's a rare treat, offering a trip into the brothers' witty, eccentric, but thoughtful filmmaking minds. Their anecdote about an interview they gave to a magazine called "Floor Coverings Weekly" is priceless, and it shows their playfulness and willingness to mock anyone not in on the joke.)
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Dude abides...,
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Strikes and Gutters in the Bowling Alley of Life,
Meanwhile, given the variety of screenplays they have co-authored, produced, directed thus far, Joel and Ethan Coen cannot be accused of predictability. Who else has created a body of work as varied as theirs? Blood Simple (1985), Raising Arizona (1987), Miller's Crossing (1990), Barton Fink (1991), The Hudsucker Proxy (1994), Fargo (1996) The Big Lebowski (1998), O, Brother, Where Art Thou? ((2000), and The Man Who Wasn't There (2001). Each has its own loyal and substantial following. Fargo remains my personal favorite but, over time, as I keep changing, perhaps The Big Lebowski will replace it.
Few people know that, in fact, the Coens collaborated on its screenplay with members of the Monty Python Flying Circus, Hunter Thompson, Ken Kesey, Salvador Dali, and William M. Gaines. How else to explain the absence of a coherent plot? Fortunately, we have an especially interesting cast of characters in addition to the two Jeffrey Lebowskis (Lebowskes?): "The Big's" wife Bunny (Tara Reid) who creates serious problems for "Dude" because she owes money to Jackie Treehorn (Ben Gazzara) and is kidnapped, with a ransom of $1-million demanded; "The Big's" daughter Maude (Julianne Moore) who really should join a flying circus; Jesus (John Turturro), a champion bowler who prefers blue language and purple clothing; Walter Sobchak (John Goodman), probably "Dude's" best friend; and Donny (Steve Buscemi), another of "Dude's" close friends. Much time is spent on consuming White Russians as well as on bowling, kidnapping, cursing, extortion, sex, and...
For many of us, this film is an acquired taste. I enjoy it more each time I see it; others, I realize, will not see it through to completion. For them, it makes no sense. In this context, I am reminded of Henry Ford's observation that whether you think you can or think you can't, you're right.
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The Big Lebowski [Blu-ray] by Joel Coen (Blu-ray - 2011)