Gramercy Pictures (I) | Release Date: March 6, 1998 CRITIC SCORE DISTRIBUTION
Generally favorable reviews based on 46 Critic Reviews
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Anything goes in The Big Lebowski, and you roll right along with it. [6 March 1998, p.3]
So I'll just say this: The Big Lebowksi is an excellent movie - and damn funny.
Though the Coens have a way, as ever, with a crime yarn (even a truly goofy one), it's their ability to create eccentrically affecting characters - and to devise unusual fantasy sequences that work as large-scale sight gags - that makes this movie such a quirky pleasure. [6 March 1998, p.L30]
The Big Lebowski isn't quite up to the level of the Coen brothers' best films - "Miller's Crossing," "Fargo" and "Barton Fink." But second-level Coen brothers can be funnier than first-level almost everybody else. [6 March 1998, p.D5]
Truth be told, Joel and Ethan's game is a little off, inconsistent and at times just plain incoherent. But they roll enough solid laughs and eye-tickling camera tricks to satisfy. [6 March 1998]
Perhaps only the committed Coen fan, however, can be entirely pleased with Sam Elliott's incongruous appearance as a Dude-worshipping character called The Stranger, or with the tired kidnapping plot, which plays like an unnecessary leftover from other Coen movies. For all its strong points, The Big Lebowski will have as many detractors as fans. [6 March 1998]
Just a silly mess of a movie in which no one is trying very hard to do anything but goof off. [6 March 1998]
For those who enjoy the non sequiturs common to Cheech & Chong comedies and Raymond Chandler mysteries, The Big Lebowski is a hoot. For those of a more serious warp, the film is a lexicon of postmodernism, a textbook example of recontextualizing earlier styles, what with its '60s casualties driving '70s cars and enjoying '50s pleasures in the '90s. In other words, this is not a movie for those who demand narrative thrust and coherence, although even they will be startled by the contrast between Bridges' teddy-bear affability and Goodman's corrosive hostility. [6 March 1998, p.04]
Where Fargo was cool and wryly detached, the zany new film is aggressively antic - more like parts of their Barton Fink or The Hudsucker Proxy. On occasion, in fact, the Coens' anything-goes approach can begin to get on your nerves. [6 March 1998, p.17]
They've never been farther into outer space than in The Big Lebowski. Fans (myself included) may cackle at absurd situations and in-jokes. But director Joel and producer Ethan, who write together, have never made so much clamorous ado about nothing. [6 March 1998, p.7E]
Unfortunately, The Big Lebowski doesn't hang together, and it's not supposed to: That's just the way the Coens want it. In some circles, this will be celebrated as the brothers' refusal to "sell out" after achieving Oscar glory. But anyone hoping for a real movie will see The Big Lebowski as nothing more than a pleasant waste of time. [6 March 1998, p.5G]
It's a tired idea, and it produces an episodic, unstrung film. [6 March 1998, p.49]
The Associated PressHillel Italie
A letdown, another comedy that's strange for the sake of being strange. This one's a riff on detective movies. It has nothing to say but does take a long time to say it...the film plays like a bad inside joke. [2 March 1998]