Well I sent alot of Geeks to search for THE BIG LEBOWSKI. I received A LOT of reviews... about 32 so far. The vast majority loved it. However, some were bothered by the silliness of it (reference the last review of the film on this page), while others delighted in it. These reviews do contain spoilers, not the massive type, but more than most 'Coen Brother Fans' might be willing to take. Suffice to say people are saying it is like a mix of Fargo, Hudsucker Proxy and Raising Arizona. Having read the script, I'm dying to see this one. If you just want to read one of these reviews, I recommend the third one, the Moriarty review. He really out did himself with this one. Funny as hell. This first review comes from the Jack that you don't know. No matter how many questions you may know the answer to, I can guarantee you don't know Jack. He's a shifty fella, and hopefully the mysterious unknown Jack will become familiar. Well, that's my hope anyway!!!
Tonight I saw a test screening of Joel and Ethan Coen's next picture, "The Big Lebowski" here at General Cinema in Woodland Hills. Right off, I can tell you that I have always been a big fan of both the filmmakers and the cast, which includes Jeff Bridges, Steve Buscemi, John Goodman, Peter Stomare, Julianne Moore, and John Turturro. I think they are all great. What did I think of the picture? Well, it's no "Fargo". That's for sure. In fact, it is more along the lines of "Raising Arizona" in both style and viewing pleasure. It starts off with a cowboy-type narrator explaining how he is going to tell the story of Jeff Lebowski, a.k.a. "The Dude" (Jeff Bridges), a layed-back, unemployed guy who's kind of stuck in the 70's in the early 90's. We first see "The Dude" as he searches through the dairy section at Ralph's. He's a casual guy. He kind of lets life pass right on by. We soon meet his friends, Walter and Donnie (John Goodman and Steve Buscemi) at their hangout, the bowling alley. Walter, a converted Jew and Vietnam Vet, is always wrong. ALWAYS. He'll fly over the handle over the smallest of things. In one scene in particuliar, he pulls a gun on Smokey, a bowling opponent who in his opinion, stepped over the line just as he let go of the bowling ball. Unlike Walter, Donnie doesn't say much. That is, Walter won't let him. Every time Donnie tries to get a word out, Walter interupts with "Shut the f - - k up, Donnie! Anyway, "The Dude" is mistaken for another Jeff Lebowski by a couple of thugs who take a piss on "The Dude"'s rug. "The Dude" doesn't like it, so he meets with the other, rich Lebowski, pleading for him to replace his rug. The rich Lebowski says no, but "The Dude" takes one anyway. Soon, Mr.Lebowski's wife, Bunny, is kidnapped, and "The Dude" is asked to be the money carrier because the rich Lebowski thinks that the two men who pissed on "The Dude"'s rug might be the kidnappers, and he knows that "The Dude" would be the only one to know for sure. Which thus begins a cycle of things that go wrong. To me, the bowling alley scenes are the funniest. I didn't like the Julianne Moore scenes at all. She just didn't add anything. But I did like this picture. I must say that I was entertained all the way through. Look out for some really funny daydream scenes in which Jeff Bridges flies on a rug and stars in a porn movie (kind of). Well, I really don't want to give away any more.
El Wey wrote this followup to yesterday's "DUDE mini-review". El Wey will hopefully become a regular, because there ain't no way you can stop El Wey...
hey harry just wanted to write in and second "dude's" review (however brief) of "the big lebowski". i actually had passes to both that and "payback" last night, but it wasn't much of a choice as to what to see. i'm a huge coen brothers fan. "tbl" is, i think, their funniest film to date. the style is a cross between "raising arizona" & "hudsucker. .", some slapstick, some fantasy dream stuff, and some just plain ole freaky coen shit. the plot isn't important (and shall be kept a nice surprise, just the way i saw it), the real goods are the performances from all involved. Goodman's great as a semi-psycho, vietnam flashback havin' bowling nut; buscemi's always great, even while not doing too much;julianne moore & john tuturro have brief but hilarious scenes; but the "dude" himself, jeff bridges, is (dare i say??) oscar worthy as a stoner bum who gets involved in this crazy kidnapping scheme. definately not for "the masses", but they'll go anyways cuz of "fargo", and i for one would love to be there when some old couple walks out, confused as hell half through the film. i'd tell em to go home and rent "barton fink", then they'll stay away from my secret little film making brothers for good. the coens don't need every midwestern house wife going to see their films thinking they're hip and laughing at all the wrong spots. let em rent "men in black" a third time. thanks for the great site and keep up the good work your spy (who's still in the cold-damn computer room draft) Ben Reilly (back from the grave, which you know will happen sooner or later
I love this review from Moriarty! It made me laugh for quite some time. Notice how he stays in character, how he lets go of pretention, how he makes a snide remark about a certain ex-marketing exec. Wonderful. If I didn't know better I would think this fella knew a thing or two about a keyboard. But you see, all his reviews come letter for letter cut out of newspaper and glued with acid-free paste made from some natural substance that can only be found in Peru. (My technicians tested it) Anyway, read this wonderful review, by AICN regular... Moriarty...
"Moriarity here. You know, Harry, there's nothing that appeals to an evil genius like myself more than the work of other twisted, evil geniuses. The Coen Bros. fit that bill, and their new movie THE BIG LEBOWSKI is one of the new year's genuine delights. There was a moment of panic for my henchman and I when we got to the theater tonight. It seems we had no pass with us, and there was some doubt as to whether or not we'd be able to get in. Thankfully, there was a kind soul named Dave at the front of the line who we were able to hypnotize out of one of his passes. I'd like to thank Dave, although his will was not (strictly speaking) his own. Thanks to him, we were able to slip into line and collect our tickets with minimum blood spilled. The effort was worth it, too. This is yet another classic to set up on the video shelf alongside FARGO, THE HUDSUCKER PROXY, RAISING ARIZONA and MILLER'S CROSSING. Like ARIZONA, this is a deeply warped comedy that has to do with kidnapping. Sort of. It also has to do with bowling. Sort of. And both Vietnam and vaginas. Sort of. Actually, this one may defy simple explanation or paraphrasing. That's part of the joy of the film, and it's the reason it will probably meet a swift and painful death at the box-office. The woman seated behind us summed up the point of view of the average viewer when the lights came up and she said, quite loudly, "That was really stupid." Ah... the sound of the cattle lowing. How comforting. How predictable. The film is an homage, in the loosest sense of the word, to the work of Raymond Chandler. Those of you unfamiliar with his work need not worry, as it's not a requirement to enjoy the picture. For those of you who are familiar with what he did, this film captures the spirit of his Marlowe work perfectly. There's a central figure who, through a series of misunderstandings, is drawn into an elaborate web of colorful characters in pursuit of a goal that may or may not even exist. In this case, the goal is the kidnapped Bunny Lebowski, wife of the Big Lebowski, who happens to share a name with The Dude, played to goofball perfection by Jeff Bridges in the finest comic performance of his career. There's another half to the goal, a $1 million ransom that is demanded for the safe return of Bunny, who may or may not be involved with the kidnappers, who may or may not be pornographers or German nihilists with a weakness for "lincolnberry pancakes" or Maude Lebowski, an artist whose work is extremely "vaginal" or even the Big Lebowski himself. Dude has two friends who are part of his bowling league, Walter (John Goodman) and Donny (Steve Buscemi). They both become wrapped up in this case with him. The Dude's involvement originally begins because of a case of mistaken identity, when someone breaks into his house, thinking it's the home of the Big Lebowski, and pisses on his rug to make a point. It's Walter that talks the Dude into going to The Big Lebowski and demanding a new rug or money to pay for one, since it was his rug they were trying to piss on in the first place. This move is enough to get The Dude in deep. To say any more about the story would be shameful. Part of the joy of the film is the way the Coens are able to keep dragging us farther and farther into this bizarre seamy underbelly of LA, introducing us to character after character, all of whom seem to have a richer inner life than in any film I can remember seeing recently. Somehow the Coens are able to create cartoonish characters that manage to feel real as well. They're helped by their incredible cast. Goodman is at a career high as well as Walter, who is the kind of Nam vet who will pull a gun in an argument at the bowling alley and who isn't above bullying a 15 year old to get what he wants. Buscemi is very good, as is John Turturro as Jesus, a convicted sex offender who is on an opposing bowling team. Julianne Moore, Jon Polito, Ben Gazzara, Flea, Peter Stormare, and Sam Elliott all show up and do great work in minor roles. I can't say enough good about this one, man. I know Gramercy will pull a Pula with the marketing of the picture, but fuck it. Go see the film anyway. If you're a Coens fan, you can't go wrong. If you're not, you've evidently gone wrong already. Once again, Harry, Moriarty has spoken. Thanks for your time."
The closest to a negative review came here... From a spy that will become known as Alan Hale. He can constantly be found at the side of a certain swashbuckler, but on this night he was in attendance of the Coen's latest. He had some honest problems with the films, some of the above may criticize him for being too serious, but his opinion is just as valid as the ones that came above, and some of you will certainly agree with him. So check it out, here's the devil's advocate review:
I was also at the Santa Monica screening of the Cohen Brothers' movie "The Big Lebowski." At the end of the movie, my thought was "Harry would like this movie." I was actually going to put that on the survey card, but opted not to. But to the review: "The Big Lebowski" is COOL in many ways. It assaults you with some luscious visual images. It is a very visual movie. The opening is very cool. There are several dream sequences that look oh sooo cool. Lots of slow motion images with cool music in the background. One has The Dude flying over LA at night. Another is like a neo-70's version of an MGM musical complete with long legged chorus girls in short skirts wearing oversized bowling pin head dresses. OH MY GOSH, the Marmot, you are going to hear tons about the marmot. (FYI - a marmot is a cousin to a ferret, they look the same.) That is one of several outstanding visual surprises. There are several moments were unexpected things come at you from unexpected places. And it's all so cool. The revelation of "Jesus" is a total bust up. That is another great moment in the movie. The characters are pretty good. Jeff Bridges (The Dude) does a great job. John Goodman and Steve Bucemi are both excellent. Everyone else ... well they sort of become flat caracatures. I wanted to see a lot more of Jesus. He was a great character. The script is funny. The dialogue is similar to Fargo or Pulp Fiction in that there is an amusement to be had in hearing people talk. There are tons of laughs motivated by great dialogue, great visual images, and funny situations. Now the draw backs. This is a movie that is all about the medium. It is about the beauty of the words and the images. From it's opening it attempts to tell a story of something that happened. But in terms of structure, there is no story. I am currently reading "The Writer's Journey" by Christopher Vogler, which is a practical summary of Joseph Campbell's work on mythical structures in story telling. This may explain my comments. The story doesn't work because it fails to meet certain story telling expectations. First.. nothing happens to the hero "The Dude." During the movie, that's OK because (to borrow a line from the movie) "Dude, I (we) like your style." But at the end of the movie, nothing has changed. We're involved with the surface texture, but there is no substance to what is going on underneath. We are loosely connected to an interesting character who had some weird funny things happen to him. But the invovlement and connection is shallow. The one metaphor that keeps coming to my mind is that "The Big Lebowski" (in effect) is very much like the pornography it satirizes. The movie is very erotic. You've never seen such sensual images of such simple things as the circa 60-70's ball return at the bowling alley. In one of the dream sequences a horizontal bowling pin splits two bowling balls in anal fashion. There are lots of references to The Dude's Johnson. Bunnie offers to give him a blow job for $1000. Bunnie worked for and owed money to Mr. _____ Triplehorn a porn film maker.The marmot and The Dude's Johnson are directly involved. There are a lot of bare breasts in the movie. If you like that, great. I did't think they needed to be there. They were visually gratuitous. The movie would have been just fine without them. My point is that there is no substance to the movie. It is a great superficial titilation of a movie. But when it's over, the main character and the audience have learned nothing except for the sequence of events that happened to The Dude. In a sense that's OK because at some point we need movies without a message just for fun. This is one of those movies. But with no growth, no change, no revelation or attachement, the characters and the audience are unchanged and not well connected. You feel, ... or at least I felt as if something was missing. The sense of the movie missing something was similar to when someone looks at porn and wow it all looks good, but after the discharge, you're no closer to a woman than before, and you're the one holding your Johnson. I believe it is possible to say something out of nothing. NBC and Seinfeld pocked millions on that concept. This movie could have said something. I didn't want to learn a life's lesson. I just wanted to be more involved and connected with the characters than I was allowed. It is possible that the movie was lacking not because of it's dramatic structure and story elements but because of the mishandling of the following: The ending was lame. You know it's lame when the cowboy (Wise Man archetype) looks at the camera and tells us "well that's the end of the story." Someone tell me what the cowboy's bit of wisdom means "Sometimes the bar eats you, but sometimes you eat the bar." I don't have a clue. The movie gave no explanantion. There is a side story about a private eye that follows the dude around in a VW bug for two thirds of the movie, before The Dude and the audience find out who he is, and his existence is pointless. No pay off there. You could cut the private eye out completely and you would never miss it. A lot of the nudity was unnecessary. Several times I felt that I was being spoon fed explanations. Half way through the movie, several of the characters did sudden turn arounds that were very disorienting. There were times I lost track of who, what, and where. In Pulp Fiction, unexpected things occurred but you still had a sense of what was going on because the characters were consistent and you could get your bearings off of them. In "The Big Lebowski" too many characters, plot twists, and settings changed. Final comment, my sister's friend, who is a BIG Cohen Brothers fan said it was too much like Fargo and Pulp Fiction. He was disappointed. He agreed that the way so many characters changed was very disorienting and did not work. He did laugh, thought it looked great, but it could have been more. I agree. You'll love the movie. You'll laugh and utter "COOL" many times. It's definitely worth going to see for what you see. But in the classical sense of how a movie works, it doesn't.