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Far Out Dude: The Big Lebowski Turns 20 Years Old

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The year was 1998. Directors (and brothers) Joel and Ethan Coen were nearing the end of a decade, in which they had risen as newbies in the film industry; but also redefined the field. Two years earlier, they released one of their many masterpieces, Fargo, which was nominated for Best Picture and won two other Academy Awards. When 1998 came around, the quirky directors were ready to continue what they had touched on in Fargo; and create the ultimate comedy. The film which they produced was the cult classic, stoner comedy: The Big Lebowski.

I have to start of by stating that I have an extreme bias towards this classic. Anybody who knows myself or my close friends knows that this is the movie we identify with, and have come to adopt as “our movie”. It is my favorite comedy film ever; and very well might be my favorite Coen Brothers movie. That is a tough distinction thought, because No Country for Old Men is almost just as much a masterpiece. Anyway, I must also mention that I feel it is almost impossible to do Lebowski justice just by talking about it. It is a film that has to be experienced over and over again. With every new viewing, there is a scene or a line or a tiny minuscule detail which one has never noticed before that makes the film brand new and even better. An example of this would be if you watch the film, you’ll notice that there are around a dozen or more phrases which are restated throughout the film by different characters in different scenes. Unless you’re extremely observant, I doubt you will notice this upon your first viewing.

For those that haven’t seen Lebowski, you’re probably wondering what I’m talking about. Well, I’ll attempt to summarize the film. The first thing to understand is that The Big Lebowski‘s plot is pretty much pointless. I won’t spoil the ending, but the story just goes in a circle in the end and not much of the story matters. The plot centers around a laid-back stoner called “The Dude” (Jeff Bridges). The Dude’s real name is Jeff Lebowski, and he shares the same name as a rich businessman who lives in Los Angeles; where the film is set. A group of men in town harass the Dude, thinking he is the other Lebowski; and when the Dude seeks out the rich Lebowski to resolve this issue, he becomes involved in a series of odd and interchangeable events. Around this time, the story delves deeper into the Dude’s life. We learn that he is an avid bowler, a fan of Creedance Clearwater Revival, and a relatively laid back guy. His friends are ex-Vietnam veteran, Walter Sobchak (John Goodman) and “Donny” (Steve Buscemi). I have to mention here that Walter is possibly the best character in the film, and is without a doubt the greatest role John Goodman has ever executed. After the rich Lebowski’s wife is kidnapped, the Dude and his friends are involved in a complex and confusing crime saga; in attempt to help return the kidnapped wife.

Twenty years later, The Big Lebowski is still one of the funniest films ever made. It has some of the best written lines and characters of any film. I feel as though I can’t do the film justice in one review, but I must just reiterate that if you have not seen this movie; you must. Some may not find the movie to be hilarious, but it would be much more beneficial to watch it and find this out than to not try it. It really is a masterpiece, and for even more than just the comedy. The best time to watch this movie is right now, twenty years after its initial release so you can appreciate its timelessness. So go put it on! “The dude abides.”

The Dude (Jeff Bridges), Donny (Steve Buscemi) and Walter Sobchak (John Goodman)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Far Out Dude: The Big Lebowski Turns 20 Years Old