Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Big Lebowski

The Big Lebowski is a fairly hit and miss movie. However, almost every comedy has it's bright spots and weak spots (Princess Bride excluded) so I don't think that is much of a criticism. The Coen brothers have this odd sort of way of telling a comedic story that makes it feel like the people are more realistic and less farcical like you might find in a standard slapstick picture. In fact "The Dude" in this is based off someone they actually knew. The Dude himself is fairly humorous at all times as the most legendary of slackers and Jeff Bridges will forever be tied to the identity.

I like this movie a lot and consider it to be infinitely rewatchable, which is about as much as you can ask from a comedy. I don't think it's possible for any sane person to not find Walter Sobchak or Jesus Quintana hilarious in every scene. While there are a sleugh of odd characters Walter is always awesome and he and The Dude work very well together. Additionally the narrator, who shows up just a few times, is Sam Elliot essentially playing himself as a random cowboy to tell the tale of "The Dude" is great every time you see him. "And I'm talkin' about the Dude here. Sometimes, there's a man, well, he's the man for his time and place. He fits right in there. And that's the Dude, in Los Angeles. And even if he's a lazy man - and the Dude was most certainly that. Quite possibly the laziest in Los Angeles County, which would place him high in the runnin' for laziest worldwide." is part of the intro scene

Nobody fucks with the Jesus and John Torturro's other scene are both perhaps two of the greatest scenes in the history of cinema. About half of the random characters in the film are quite humorous and don't really disrupt the feel of the film. Phillip Seymour Hoffman is great and so is "The Big Lebowski," Donnie is awesome as well though he doesn't have nearly as vociferous a role as you may be accustomed to seeing him play. In fact this role may be Steve Buscemi's quietest, but it is also one of the funniest roles he has. The Coens have a way of constructing a film around a character so that the actor does not have to actually act, all they have to do is exist in some sort of believable fashion and they will be inherently well designed. This is much more apparent in No Country for Old Men, but both The Dude and Donnie are like that in this film (and most of the Minnesotans in Fargo were as well).

Unfortunately the entire film isn't quite as awesome when taken all together. There are quite a few simply bizarre scenes that remain bizarre no matter how many times I watch the movie. Maude Lebowski might occasionally benefit from The Dude's presence in a scene to make it halfway humorous but most of the time what happens is oddly disconnected in such a way that I never find those particular scenes to be all that entertaining. I guess this is what turns off some people from the film and the Coens as a whole, but if you just ignore those scenes and their general irrelevance the rest of the film is always great. I'd recommend you at least watch this movie once and then come to your own determination of just how funny it is.

Bunny and the Nihilists tend to just be odd participants rather than humorous in their scenes of the film, while I think they're intended to be purely farcical it just doesn't work all that well. I think due to the way the Coens create their pictures there really is no remedy for it, you can't blame the actors because they're not really acting, they're just there and following orders. Mike Yamagita in Fargo was a random ass scene from nowhere but I thought it actually worked in that film and was hilarious, but some of the large number of random characters in this aren't up to par with that performance.

Final Score: 8/10

In the spirit of the Dude: Derezzed from Tron

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