There are few films that have been produced in the last twenty years that do for me what The Big Lebowski by the Coen Brothers does. In the last thirty days, I have seen it twice; and Im still drawn in by it.
This is a film about mistaken identities and incorrect snap judgments. “The Dude” is Jeff Lebowski (played by Jeff Bridges), an unemployed layabout who loves to bowl. He is confused for a more wealthy Jeff Lebowski, whose young trophy wife has supposedly been kidnapped. One of the Dude’s bowling partners is Walter Sobchak (John Goodman), a harebrained security consultant who is a poster boy for making bad decisions. The two get drawn into the kidnap plot, but things go from bad to worse—until Donny (Steve Buscemi), also on the Dude’s bowling team, dies when the Dude and Walter and confronted by the kidnappers.
Along the way are such great bit parts as Jesus Quintana (John Turturro), a egomaniacal bowler; Maude Lebowski (Julianne Moore), the other Lebowski’s daughter; Bunny Lebowski (Tara Reid), the trophy wife; and the Stranger (Sam Elliott), who runs into the Dude at the bowling lanes.
What is it about the film which has such a strong appeal for me? Probably it is because The Big Lebowski captures the whole Southern California lifestyle with accuracy and feeling. There are bowlers, millionaires, porno film producers, twisted cops, nihilists, wacko artists, and even a detective who seems to have lost his way. Oddly, Joel and Ethan Coen are New Yorkers who do not look down on L.A. as the land of mashed yeast and right turns at red lights: It looks as if they had actually spent some time here profitably.
I don’t guarantee that the Dude will do for you what he has done for me, but I think he just might.