It’s been 20 years since the Coen brothers’ most quotable, most hilarious, most fantastic film first graced our screens. The Big Lebowski is a comedy unlike any I’ve ever seen and is so whimsical in nature that it’s almost hard to point out exactly what the film is about. Often considered the epitome of ‘stoner’ culture on cinema, the film follows the exploits of Jeff Lebowski (a perfectly cast Jeff Bridges) nicknamed ‘The Dude’ who is mistaken for a millionaire of the same name, involving him in a kidnapping plot among other things. Seemingly random events from there begin to interweave through the plot whether it the Dude’s bowling tournament, a porn tycoon, rug desecrating nihilists, a severed toe and so much more.
The Dude is one of the most iconic characters in cinematic history. From his dressing gown and shades to his white Russians to his laid back attitude, he may just be the most recognisable character in the Coens’ oeuvre perhaps only rivalled by Javier Bardem’s turn as Anton Chigurh in No Country for Old Men. But Bridges isn’t the only one that shines here as the cast is near impeccable. John Goodman and Steve Buscemi feature as the Dude’s bowling buddies, Julianne Moore as the millionaire Lebowski’s manipulative daughter, Sam Elliott as some sort of ethereal presence and the late great David Huddleston and Philip Seymour Hoffman as the eponymous Big Lebowski and his aide.
As I mentioned before this is an extremely quotable film with classics such as “that rug really tied the room together”, “this aggression will not stand, man” and “yeah, well, you know, that’s just, like, your opinion, man.” The screenplay is quintessential Coens’ and in all honesty is half the reason the film works at all. On paper, you wouldn’t think a film with a plot like this would remotely make any kind of sense or even be interesting but the zany, chaotic nature that is a Joel and Ethan Coen script makes for an unforgettable whacky but wholly trackable experience.
The Big Lebowski has clearly had a large impact culturally across the world with even the creation of its own philosophical movement (that certain members even go as far as to say is a religion) called Dudeism. A movement dedicated to living life with the morals and principals of Jeff Bridges' lead character. Another example of the far-reaching fandom is Lebowski Fest, a travelling convention that celebrates any and all things from the film and has even been held in London.
I really can’t describe this film as anything other than a masterpiece. One of the most re-watchable films of all time and certainly the most re-watchable in the Coens’ catalogue. The Big Lebowski will simply never be not funny no matter how many times you see these characters interact with each other and is a defining film in each actor’s filmography. One of the most groundbreaking comedies in recent years, 20 years and it feels like it hasn't aged a day.