BIG LEBOWSKI, THE
Reviewed March 11th, 2001 by Todd Terwilliger
A Joel and Ethan Coen movie. For anyone familiar with their work, those words will either send you running to the video store to pick up their latest or run the other way, screaming. The follow-up to their hit Fargo, The Big Lebowski is a film about, well, about a guy named Lebowski. Actually, he prefers to be called the Dude.
The Dude (Jeff Bridges) is keen on many things but working is not one of them. He loves to bowl, toke up, drink Irish Coffees, and bowl. When the wife of a more famous Lebowski (David Huddleston) is kidnapped, the Dude is called in to make the exchange. As may be expected, nothing goes right and, with right-wing bowling partner Walter (John Goodman), the Dude attempts to extricate himself from the labyrinthine plots that entangle him.
Along with Goodman, the ensemble cast is excellent. Julianne Moore, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Steve Buscemi, and John Turturro all put in quality time in supporting roles. Goodman, in particular, shines as the Dude's right-wing bowling partner. His performance is vintage stuff. Jeff Bridges as well is great as the Dude. He hits the perfect cord as the laid-back Dude, who seems to float effortlessly through life.
The video is presented in a matted 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The transfer is clean with little scratching or dirt. The blacks are deep and dark and the flesh tones realistic. The colors retain their brilliance nicely. The dream sequences mesh pitch dark blacks with vibrant colors and the bowling alley, with its mix of soft creams and neon lights, looks incredible.
The soundtrack comes in the usual flavors: a Dolby Digital 5.1 and a 2.0 mix. The 5.1 track is solid, if unspectacular. Lebowski is driven by dialog and music and the soundtrack handles these elements nicely. Dialog is clear and never muddled. The musical tracks, featuring various '60s and '70s hits, sound wonderful. There is some nice movement across the front soundstage but you won't find much going on through the rears. The LFE, as well, will go largely untested. This is not a soundtrack to push the limits of your system but it does a workmanlike job and never distracts from the film itself.
The extras are nice but not great. There is the usual cast and crew bios and TV spots. The highlight is a 30 minute interview with the Coen brothers about the making of the film. The interview is excellent and informative but I wish the Coens would have spent the extra hour or so for a scene-specific commentary. Overall, the extras are decent but, the Coens interview withstanding, eminently forgettable.
Lebowksi, like the other Coen Brothers works, is a quirky film destined to inspire either love or hatred. If you enjoy interplay, and quirky oddball characters, Lebowksi is sure to please. The DVD presents the film in the best possible light. Lebowski shines. Or, as he prefers, call him the Dude.
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