Blu-ray and DVD Reviews

The Big Lebowski - Collector's Edition

Reviewed by: Scott Chitwood
Movie Rating:
8 out of 10
Extras Rating:
7 out of 10
Movie Details:
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Rating: R

Starring:
Jeff Bridges as Jeffrey Lebowski - The Dude
John Goodman as Walter Sobchak
Julianne Moore as Maude Lebowski
Steve Buscemi as Theodore Donald 'Donny' Kerabatsos
David Huddleston as Jeffrey Lebowski - The Big Lebowski
Philip Seymour Hoffman as Brandt
Tara Reid as Bunny Lebowski
Philip Moon as Woo, Treehorn thug
Mark Pellegrino as Blond Treehorn thug
Peter Stormare as Uli Kunkel, nihilist #1 - 'Karl Hungus'
Flea as Nihilist #2
Torsten Voges as Nihilist #3
Jimmie Dale Gilmore as Smokey
Jack Kehler as Marty
John Turturro as Jesus Quintana

Special Features:
Introduction by Mortimer Young

Jeff Bridges' Photography

Making of The Big Lebowski

Production Notes

Other Info:
Widescreen (1.85:1)
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
Spanish and French Languages
Spanish and French Subtitles
Running Time: 1 Hour 58 Minutes

Synopsis:
The Big Lebowski was originally released in 1998. The following is from the DVD cover:

"The Coen brothers' irreverent cult hit comes to DVD as a Collector's Edition, with all-new bonus material. The hilariously twisted comedy-thriller stars Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi and Julianne Moore. Join the "Dude" and his bowling buddies on their journey that blends unforgettable characters, kidnapping, a case of mistaken identity and White Russians. Enter the visually unique and entertaining world from the creative minds of the Coen brothers and remember: the Dude abides."

The Big Lebowski is rated R for pervasive strong language, drug content, sexuality and brief violence.

The Movie:
I've been a fan of the Coen Brothers since I saw "O, Brother Where Art Thou" in 2000, yet I haven't seen many of their previous films. The Big Lebowski is one of those that I missed. After viewing it on DVD, I see that it features many of the trademarks of the other Coen films. It features lovable losers, subtle humor, blatant physical humor, clever dialogue, a great cast, and a fun soundtrack.

"The Dude" has a cult following and it's easy to see why. Jeff Bridges makes the character lovable despite the fact that he's a loser in every sense of the word. He's a stoner, he doesn't dress very well, he's rude, foul mouthed, and he's kind of an idiot, too. Yet you can't help but like his laid back attitude. It's quite amusing to see him repeatedly get led astray by his friend Walter, played by John Goodman. Usually when Walter tells him to do something, certain doom is sure to follow. Walter is loud, violent, and constantly reminds everyone he was in Vietnam. Put the two together and you end up with a recipe for disaster as well as comedy.

Goodman and Bridges are backed up by a fantastic supporting cast. Julianne Moore is eccentric and artistic as Maude Lebowski. Steve Buscemi is perpetually clueless as Donny, The Dude's bowling partner. Philip Seymour Hoffman is neurotic as Brandt while John Turturro is exceedingly creepy as Jesus Quintana, The Dude's bowling rival. Then you have cameos by Peter Stormare, Flea, and Torsten Voges as the harmless Nihilists. There are many more supporting cast members and they all have their moments to shine in this film.

I really love the subtle humor in this movie. For example, everyone seems to call things by their wrong names. The Dude calls a ferret a marmot. Walter calls a terrier a Pomeranian. This goes on and on through the whole film. At another point in the movie, The Dude attempts to prop a chair against a door so that nobody can come in, yet the door opens outwards and the goons come in anyway. It's a quick and cheap laugh. Then you have Donny constantly coming in on the middle of a conversation and either asking an inane question or making a comment that has nothing to do with the train of thought. A lot of this great humor is courtesy of the Coen Brother's great dialogue. But there's a lot of physical humor, too. Walter accidentally dumps the ashes of a friend in The Dude's face. Walter drops a lit joint in his lap and screams like a girl as he crashes. Whether you like slapstick or more subtle humor, there's something here you'll enjoy.

The Coen Brothers also put together another great compilation of music. It features everything from The Creedence Clearwater Revival to Bob Dylan to a Hispanic version of Hotel California.

My only gripe about the movie is that it has a lot of profanity in it. The word "f**k" is said almost as often as "man". I think if they had toned it down it would have been accessible to a much wider audience than it was. Maybe it would have seen a bigger box office, too.

This new Collector's Edition apparently doesn't have anything new besides an introduction by Mortimer Young. In it, the old film historian states how a copy of "The Grand Lebowski" was saved from a fire and restored. It's more amusing than I make it sound, but I don't think it makes this DVD worth buying again if you already own it.

The Extras:
Besides the new introduction, there are two other bonus features included on this DVD. One is a photo gallery taken by Jeff Bridges while on the set. They are a lot of black and white behind the scenes photos. The other is a "making of" featurette. It all seems to have been shot when the movie was first made. It includes extensive interviews with the Coens, Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, and more. The Coens talk about the real life "Dude", amusing interviews they've done with the press for the film, how they directed Jeff Bridges, and more.

The Bottom Line:
The Big Lebowski is required viewing for fans of The Coen Brothers, Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, or anyone that enjoys off the wall humor.

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