“F*** it… Let’s go bowling.”
Overview: Lebowski may be an uncommon name, but Los Angeles is a big city, home to two separate and unrelated Jeffrey Lebowski’s. When their identity is mistaken and “The Dude” Lebowski (Bridges) has his house broken into, his rug peed on, and his face shoved in a toilet, a long chain of events cascades down from there. The Dude is cast into a progressively more complex web of events involving treachery, bowling, kidnapping, bowling, theft, sex, bowling, violence, and lots of J-rollin, pot-smokin good times. Oh, and bowling. Even though the main character happens to be a stoner, I think non-stoners may identify with the movie more.
Notable Actors / Actresses: Jeff Bridges (The Dude), John Goodman (Walter), Steve Buscemi (Donnie), Julianne Moore (Maude), Sam Elliott (The cowboy), Phillip Seymour-Hoffman (Grant), Tara Reid (Bunnie), Flea (Nihilist 3), John Turturro (Jesus).
Homages / Trivia: In the duration of the movie, the Dude never actually rolls a single bowling ball. The Sandals (Jellies) that he wears in the film, as well as a lot of the character’s clothes, actually belonged to Jeff Bridges. The blue VW beetle driven by the P.I. is a reference to an earlier Coen brothers film, Blood Simple (1984), in which a P.I. also drives the same car. The German Pop band “Autobahn” in the film is an implied reference to a real group from the 1970s named “Kraftwerk” who actually had a song named “Autobahn”. The album cover is remarkably identical to a real Kraftwerk album as well. John Goodman once did a television ad for the “In & Out Burger.” The shirt with kanji on it worn in the beginning is the same one Jeff Bridges wore during “The Fisher King” (1991). The character of Walter is based on John Milius, the writer of “Conan the Barbarian” (1982).
Verdict: This movie reminds me of the Scorcese films — the plot itself is kind of secondary to the illustrative nature of the film. It’s not so much a journey as it is a snapshot into the surreal life of “The Dude”; Or at least a surreal episode in The Dude’s life. The film ranges from hilarious, to tragic, to absolutely bizarre. It’s funny, although more in a tongue-in-cheek black-humor sense than a slapstick in-your-face sense. (Think less Jim Carrey / Robin Williams and more William H. Macey). It’s definitely worth watching at least once — The first time you’ll probably be confused as anything, don’t try to figure it out, just enjoy the experience.
From IMDB: (1998) When “The Dude” Lebowski is mistaken for a millionaire Lebowski, two thugs urinate on his rug to coerce him into paying a debt he knows nothing about. While attempting to gain recompense for the ruined rug from his wealthy counterpart, he accepts a one-time job with high pay-off. He enlists the help of his bowling buddy, Walter, a gun-toting Jewish-convert with anger issues. Deception leads to more trouble, and it soon seems that everyone from porn empire tycoons to nihilists want something from The Dude.
“F*** it… Let’s go bowling.”