wogma rating: Beg or borrow, but do watch (?)
A film that wasn’t a commercial success but gained cult status over the years. The Big Lebowski reveals much about the Coen Brothers’ penchant for making films that stand out because of the comically dark treatment of their stories. With near-iconic characters that stay with you much after you’ve watched the film, it’ll surely make you go, “Dude, what in the world was that?” A word of warning: The film may just convert you to Dudeism – try googling that.Read more
Every once in a while comes a film that clearly demarcates its success into extremes. It’ll bomb at the box office and no more than a couple of years later you’ll see it gaining immense cult status. Films like Blue Velvet, Reservoir Dogs and, closer to home, Andaz Apna Apna, failed at the box office but gathered fans through their home video releases.
Some films are destined to be a bigger success through underground appreciation. If the filmmakers got a penny for every time someone highly recommended these films over a casual conversation, they’d be calling themselves James Cameron. And that’s the beauty of watching a film like The Big Lebowski.
Even though Fargo and No Country For Old Men are considered the gems, The Big Lebowski adds to their credit like a trigger. From the casting to the dialogues to the surrealistic depiction of what can only be summed up as being inside a stoner’s head, the entire experience makes you go “whaaaa?” in a salutary way.
The film surrounds Jeffery Lebowski (Jeff Bridges, also 2010’s Best Actor Academy Award winner) or the Dude as he refers to himself and prefers everyone to refer to him as. He gets caught up in a series of events because he shares his name with a millionaire. All of it is hilarious because here’s a bowling enthusiast who couldn’t be happier smoking weed, drinking White Russians and calling himself a pacifist, who gets unnecessarily involved in a tumbling situation. Accompanying him are his two friends, John Goodman (Walter Sobchak), a Vietnam veteran and Donny (Steve Buscemi) his bowling mate.
The best part about the film is the funny and edgy nature of the characters. Goodman is everything the Dude is not, with a violent temper and his willingness to settle everything with a gun. Donny is thick-headed and gullible, and they provide for admirable side characters for someone like the Dude.
Apart from these three, you have Julianne Moore playing a feminist artist, Tara Reid playing a nymphomaniac wife, Philip Hoffman playing a secretary who acts as the mediator between the two Lebowskis and the sassiest of the lot, with his Italian mafia-esque accent and loud dressing, John Turturro. Referred to as Jesus, Turturro (one of the Coen brothers’ stock actors) plays a bowling opponent to the Dude and his friends.
Each character has been depicted with a hilarious background score, and all of them come together to make for a series of bizarre, amusing scenes. Also watch out for the cowboy narrator who refers to the story as some age-old legend, with epic characters.
The special features on the DVD are not that exciting, apart from a set of photographs by Jeff Bridges and a 25 minute making of The Big Lebowski. Also featuring are short interviews with Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Julianne Moore, and of course Coen staples Steve Buscemi and John Turturro.
But if you need one reason to go buy the DVD, it is the fact that a whole religion has emerged out of a character from the film. Dudeism is now a full-blown religion, with Dudeist churches and priests spread across the US, all advocating The Dude’s philosophy and lifestyle. Dude, now that is cult status!
This review is by guest reviewer Swetha Ramakrishnan. Swetha Ramakrishnan is currently living and working in Mumbai. She's a self-confessed film enthusiast and can most likely be found talking to anyone and everyone about popular cinema and her love for SRK. Swetha Ramakrishnan also blogs at http://swetharamakrishnan.blogspot.com/.
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This page has additional observations, other than the ones noted in the main review.
Watch with a cousin who can diplomatically tell you what weed is.