Big Lebowski, The: Coens’ Zany, Messy Comedy, Starring Jeff Bridges

Going back to their natural instincts, Joel and Ethan Coen abandoned the controlled discipline of “Fargo” with “The Big Lebowski,” a messy, zany comedy-adventure.

Jeff Bridges plays the title role, known as the unforgettable Jeff (The Dude) Lebowski, a slack-brained pothead, who gets sucked into a bizarre intrigue involving another man named Lebowski, a millionaire whose promiscuous young wife may have been kidnapped, even though he says that all he wants is for someone to pay for his stained rug.

Hired to deliver the ransom money, the Dude, an unrepentant Angelino stoner, suffers one disaster after another, the result of his ineptness as well as the arrogant intervention of his paranoid Jewish friend, Walter (John Goodman).

The Dude stumbles through numerous exploits and gets lost in a barrage of surreal episodes, with people and objects flying through the air.

Many great cameo appearances grace the movie, making it more enjoyable. John Goodman is excellent as the devoutly Jewish Vietnam vet with a salty vocabulary, John Turturro is hilarious as a gay Latino bowler named Jesus urging his ball with sexy thrusts of his pelvis, Julianne Moore is equally impressive as an avant-garde artist who paints in the nude.

Steve Buscemi, a regular of the Coens’ pictures, plays a pensive surfer, set out to solve a mystery that only seems to deepen, as more clues are uncovered. Cassavetes vet actor Ben Gazzara plays a ruthless porn kingpin. Also in the cast are Philip Seymour Hoffman, Tara Reid, and Sam Elliot.

End note

Released on March 6, 1998 in the U.S., the modestly budgeted comedy has grossed over $18 million at the domestic box-office.

Since its initial theatrical release, audience appreciation for “The Big Lebowski” subversive humor has snowballed, transforming the picture into a cult favorite and cultural phenom.

The comedy’s fans have created numerous Web sites devoted to the film, and every year flocks of fans attend the “Lebowski Fests” held in cities across the U.S. to bowl, sip White Russians, and enjoy the movie–again.