Joel and Ethan Coen have done so much so brilliantly, but nothing more improbably wondrous than encasing a former 60s radical in a sweater and pajama pants and transforming him into an easy argument for the most iconic character in modern comedic cinema. So goes The Dude as he appears in “The Big Lebowski.”
Mixing the once-disparate ingredients of dark comedy, stoner flick, and L.A. noir with telltale signs of the classic buddy movie, it’s likely the casting of Jeff Bridges as the leisure-adamant Jeffery “The Dude” Lebowski that most acutely prescribed greatness for this one-of-a-kind film. An iconic performance was sure to have gone unrealized if placed in lesser hands, and Bridges’ middle-aged, self-realized Dude is set into full motion by terrific fellow slackers of their own unique brands: He teams with endearingly hostile Vietnam vet Walter Sobchak (John Goodman) and the happy-go-lucky Donny Kerabatsos (Steve Buscemi) to squelch the machismo-heavy bowling game of pedophile Jesus Quintana (a remarkable John Turturro). Yet when arm breakers mistake The Dude for a SoCal fat cat who shares his Lebowski surname, he seeks out this Big Lebowski to demand recompense. “The Big Lebowski” then begins its next-level ascent to wildly creative zeniths, mixing surrealist fantasy, bowling, and suspect private eye work into a joyously burlesque stew. We dial into The Dude’s laissez fare mindset as he wanders into an ensemble of wonderfully sketched characters placed in fascinating scenes.
The Coen brothers downplay what they must know they achieved with this movie. In Bridges’ manifestation, we see the idler, but also the possibilities of a carefree existence realized by living comfortably in one’s own skin. And that, perhaps, is this comedy’s most aspirational achievement. “The Big Lebowski” has a seat on the rug in the highest tier of uniquely great movies. - (Was this review of use to you? If so, let me know by clicking "Helpful." Cheers!)
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