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The Big Lebowski (CE)
DVD disk
Oct 26, 2005 By: Scott Weinberg
The Big Lebowski (CE) order
Director:
Joel Coen

Actors:
Jeff Bridges
John Goodman
Steve Buscemi

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
A hilariously burnt-out slacker "dude," through no fault of his own, gets wrapped up in a kidnapping scheme that involves bowling, performance art, and a peed-on rug.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
There are no Coen Brothers "fans." You're either a rabid and insane Coen freak, or you have no idea who they are. Creators of such modern classics as RAISING ARIZONA, MILLER'S CROSSING, and FARGO, Joel & Ethan Coen have spent the last 20-some years creating films that are embraced by film critics and moviegeeks alike, but aren't exactly known as "blockbuster" material.

And that's just fine. We have more than enough "blockbuster" material without worrying about what those kooky Coen boys are working on.

But of all the excellent films the siblings have sewn together, none of 'em seem to have the cable flick / cult classic status like THE BIG LEWBOWSKI does. (Personally, I don't think the film ranks among the Coens' top 5, but it's still a damn fun movie.) Much of the film's success can be attributed to the drop-dead perfect lead performance by Jeff Bridges as Jeffrey "The Dude" Lebowski, a completely lazy and shiftless pot-smoker who rolls with every punch and never loses his cool. (Well, almost never.)

Supporting Mr. Bridges is a fantastic ensemble of actors (John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, Philip Seymour Hoffman, David Huddleston) -and- the Coens' uniquely off-kilter approach, both in the screenplay and in the flick's rather unique visual stylings. It's an arthouse flick and it's a pothead comedy ... and it's a modern-noir semi-whodunnit that'll keep you guessing (even though you know the kidnapping mystery isn't even really all that important.)

THE BIG LEWBOWSKI is enjoyably odd, consistently funny, and more than a little intelligent. The fact that so many movie fans have grown to love and embrace this bizarre little movie gives me hope for the future.

THE EXTRAS
Well, for a "Special Edition," the goodies are fairly skimpy, but you don't buy a Coens movie for the bells and whistles (unless it's RAISING ARIZONA, c'mon Fox!)

Prior to the movie you'll be treated to a 5-minute film preservation introduction, which is nothing more than a straight-faced joke. Cute, but I'd have preferred this bit to appear in the Extras Menu, and not attached to the actual movie.

Ported over from the earlier DVD release is a 25-minute behind-the-scenes featurette, which features several interviews and movie clips. It's a darn solid little piece, if only because we generally don't get to hear the Coen boys talk about their films. (They've yet to record a commentary track.)

There's also a slide show of Jeff Bridges' rather impressive photography, some production notes, and if you buy the pricier, swanker "Achiever's Edition," you'll also get some coasters, photographs, and a bowling towel. (I'll just stick with the cheaper version, thanks!)

FINAL DIAGNOSIS
After seeing and enjoying THE BIG LEBOWSKI at least four times over the years, I can plainly see why the movie freaks have embraced this off-kilter comedy so enthusiastically. Me, I'm a MILLER'S CROSSING loon, and I simply can't get past the opinion that, while TBL has a brilliant opening and a slick second act, the movie gets kind of lost during its final third, and it never really recovers.

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