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69

Generally favorable reviews - based on 22 Critics What's this?

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8.8

Universal acclaim- based on 382 Ratings

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  • Starring: ,
  • Summary: A scattered farce about a pothead bowler who is mistaken for a deadbeat philanthropist.
Watch On
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 14 out of 22
  2. Negative: 1 out of 22
  1. It's paved with delightfully irregular and unanticipated bits of business that stimulate the viewer to stay fully alert, while renewing our faith in the sheer joy of watching movies.
  2. With their inspired, absurdist taste for weird, peculiar Americana-but a sort of neo-Americana that is entirely invented-the Coens have defined and mastered their own bizarre subgenre.
  3. Watching it amble along is enough of a treat, since the Coens populate this story with oddballs and bowling balls of such comic variety.
  4. The Big Lebowski is packed with show-offy filmmaking and as a result is pretty entertaining.
  5. Nearly everything in The Big Lebowski is a put-on, but all that leaves you with is the Coens' bizarrely over-deliberate, almost Teutonic form of rib nudging.
  6. This film feels completely haphazard, thrown together without much concern for organizing intelligence.
  7. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    30
    If it's all supposed to be in fun, why does it feel so much like an insult?

See all 22 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 90 out of 103
  2. Negative: 6 out of 103
  1. May 13, 2013
    10
    The Big Lebowski" is about an attitude, not a story. It's easy to miss that, because the story is so urgently pursued. It involves kidnapping,The Big Lebowski" is about an attitude, not a story. It's easy to miss that, because the story is so urgently pursued. It involves kidnapping, ransom money, a porno king, a reclusive millionaire, a runaway girl, the Malibu police, a woman who paints while nude and strapped to an overhead harness, and the last act of the disagreement between Vietnam veterans and Flower Power. It has more scenes about bowling than anything else.

    This is a plot and dialogue that perhaps only the Coen Brothers could have devised. I'm thinking less of their clarity in "Fargo" and "No Country for Old Men" than of the almost hallucinatory logic of "Raising Arizona" and "The Hudsucker Proxy." Only a steady hand in the midst of madness allows them to hold it all together--that, and the delirious richness of their visual approach.

    Anyone who cares about movies must surely have heard something about the plot. This is a movie that has inspired an annual convention and the Church of the Latter-Day Dude. Its star, Jeff Bridges, has become so identified with the starring role that when he won the 2010 Oscar for Best Actor, Twitterland mourned that his acceptance speech didn't begin with, "The Dude Abides." These words are so emblematic that they inspired a book title, The Dude Abides: The Gospel According to the Coen Brothers, by Cathleen Falsani. This is a serious book, though far from a dreary theological work.

    The Dude is Jeff Lebowski, an unemployed layabout whose days are spent sipping White Russians and nights are spent at the bowling alley. There is always a little pot available. He has a leonine mane of chestnut hair, a shaggy goatee, and a wardrobe of Bermuda shorts, rummage sale shirts, bathrobes and flip-flops,. He went to Woodstock and never left. He lives in what may be the last crummy run-down low-rent structure in Malibu. Trust the Dude to find it.

    It is widely known that the Dude was inspired by a real man named Jeff Dowd, a freelance publicist who was instrumental in launching "Blood Simple" (1984), the first film in the Coen canon. I have long known Jeff Dowd. I can easily see how he might have inspired the Dude. He is as tall, as shaggy and sometimes as mood-altered as Jeff Lebowski, although much more motivated. He remembers names better than a politician, is crafty in his strategies, and burns with a fiery zeal on behalf of those films he consents to represent.

    In the film, Jeff Lebowski tells the millionaire's daughter (Julianne Moore) that in his youth he helped draft the Port Huron Statement that founded Students for a Democratic Society, and was a member of the Seattle Seven. In real life Jeff Dowd was indeed one of the Seattle Seven, and remains so militant that at Sundance 2009 he took a punch the jaw for insisting too fervently that a critic see "Dirt," an ecological documentary Dowd believed was essential to the survival of the planet. True to his credo of nonviolence, the Dude did not punch back.

    In "The Big Lebowski," our hero has left politics far behind, and exists primarily to keep a buzz on, and bowl. He is never actually drunk in the movie, and always far from sober. His bowling partners are Walter Sobchak (John Goodman) and Donny Kerabatsos (Steve Buscemi). Walter, even taller than the Dude, is a proud Vietnam veteran and the strategist of the three. He and the Dude never mention politics. Donny is their meek sidekick, always a step behind the big guys. He says perhaps three complete sentences in the film, all brief, and is often interrupted by Walter telling him to shut the f--- up. He is happy to exist on the fringes of their glory.

    Details of the plot need not concern us. It involves a mean-tempered millionaire in a wheelchair who is the Big Lebowski (the Dude becomes, by logic, the Little Lebowski). He broods before the fire in a vast paneled library, reminding me of no one so much as Major Amberson in "The Magnificent Ambersons." His trophy wife Bunny (Tara Reid) appears to have been kidnapped. This leads indirectly to the Dude being savagely beaten by hit men who mistake him for the Big Lebowski. Well, how many Jeff Lebowskis can there be in Malibu? One of them urinates on The Dude's rug, which he valued highly ("it pulled the room together"), and the whole movie can be loosely described as being about the Dude's attempts to get payback for his rug.

    The inspiration for the supporting characters can perhaps be found in the novels of Raymond Chandler. The Southern California setting, the millionaire, the kidnapped wife, the bohemian daughter, the enforcers, the cops who know the hero by name, can all be found in Chandler. The Dude is in a sense Philip Marlowe not in his energy or focus, but in the code he lives by. Down these mean streets walks a man who won't allow his rug to be pissed on. "That will not stand," he says, perhaps unconsciously quoting George H.W. Bush about Saddam's invasion of Kuwait. The Dude does not lie, steal or cheat. He does swear.
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  2. DaveM.
    Jun 20, 2008
    10
    The Big Lebowski isn't just a movie, it's a way of life.
  3. Dec 23, 2012
    10
    Simply put this is a comedic masterpiece. It is one of the Coen Bros. best films and features some superb writing and comedy. This is mySimply put this is a comedic masterpiece. It is one of the Coen Bros. best films and features some superb writing and comedy. This is my all-time favorite comedy and is either #1 or #2 for best movie period. Expand
  4. Rob
    Oct 19, 2008
    10
    My absolute favorite comedy of all time and the best movie the Cohen Bros. have made.
  5. Feb 10, 2012
    10
    Personally this movie was fantastic and I loved every minute of it cause I mean why wouldnt any person like a movie with Jeff Bridges andPersonally this movie was fantastic and I loved every minute of it cause I mean why wouldnt any person like a movie with Jeff Bridges and Bowling! Haha Expand
  6. Jan 19, 2015
    8
    Smart, entertaining and downright ridiculous this movie is truly one of the best sleazy films full of wit, stupidity and truly quotableSmart, entertaining and downright ridiculous this movie is truly one of the best sleazy films full of wit, stupidity and truly quotable moments. Jeff Bridges and John Goodman make the one of the best comedy duos in this cult classic. Expand
  7. Jan 17, 2013
    0
    The Big lebowski is absolutely horrible. I have never seen a movie with such language. Language isn;t a problem unless every word been spokenThe Big lebowski is absolutely horrible. I have never seen a movie with such language. Language isn;t a problem unless every word been spoken is the F word. Never want to see it again. Expand

See all 103 User Reviews

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