Release Date: 1998
Director: Joel and Ethan Coen
Why I picked this: Because the Dude abides
Its dream sequences are appropriately bizarre, its characters are eccentric and over the top (but not too over the top), and the acting is as sharp as its dialogue. It’s a comedy with crime and noir elements, but this movie is really its own animal. Starring Jeff Bridges as slacker and avid bowler Jeff Lebowski, otherwise known as “The Dude,” this movie takes Lebowski through a bizarre string of events when he is confused for a millionaire with the same name. There is no real plot structure for this movie, my only major dislike, but each situation is amusing enough to make the entire experience worthwhile. This movie has some of the most bizarre characters I’ve ever seen in one movie. The events in the movie are plausible, but the characters take them to a whole new level. The best supporting character would probably have to be John Goodman’s character, Walter, a belligerent and temperamental Vietnam veteran who is The Dude’s best friend and bowling teammate. He upstages anyone he shares the screen with him with his crazy anger and conviction, and probably has some of the more memorable lines and scenes in the movie. Steve Buscemi has less screentime as the air-headed and naive Donny, another one of The Dude’s bowling teammates. Other roles include David Huddleston as the titular “Big Lebowski,” Phillip Seymour Hoffman as his assistant and mouthpiece, and Julianne Moore as Maude Lebowski, one of the stranger characters in the movie. She is introduced working on a piece of art whilst swinging over a canvas naked. Also a bizarre character is the minor, almost cameo role of John Turturro’s character of one of The Dude’s and Walter’s bowling rivals named Jesus. He makes such an impression with his brief appearance and you want to see more of him. These characters demonstrate the offbeat sense of humor of the movie, and by extension, the other comedies of the Coen brothers. As I say again and again, it is bizarre, the characters are eccentric, and everything comes across as hyperreal. The weirdness may prove to be too much for casual movie goers, but all of the jokes hit for me. Visually, it looks great, with some creative camera techniques and framing. The movie’s few dream and fantasy sequences are a wonder to watch. It’s great work from one of the best cinematographers today, Roger Deakins. I was left wondering what the point of the movie was, but I didn’t care. It was very funny.
Not sure what to make of the plot, but crazy characters and situations along with great comedic performances and cool visuals make this bizarre comedy worth trying out.