March 22, 1998 -- "The Big Lebowski" is a film that has no plot, but it has interesting characters, who get into interesting situations.
The main character, named Lebowski (played by Jeff Bridges), calls himself "Dude." He is a zoned-out ex-hippie who likes to bowl. In one scene, he is shown laying on the floor, his eyes closed, listening to a an audio tape of a bowling tournament.
Dude's friends include two bowling team members, Walter Sobchak (John Goodman), an out-of-control Vietnam vet, and Donny (Steve Buscemi) who always seems to be out of it. Dude and Sobchak get mixed up in various million dollar schemes involving a kidnapped woman and ransom money.
The Dude never quite catches up to the money, but a number of people catch him, beating him up and doing disgusting things to his rug. Among his tormenters are a group of German Nihilists and their amphibious attack weasel, some gangsters working for a porn king named Jackie Treehorn (Ben Gazarra) and the Malibu chief of police.
The screenplay, written by Ethan and Joel Coen ("Fargo") is nonsensical, but it is quite funny in places and there is some great dialogue, and a couple of dazzling dream sequences.
Bridges is great at the Dude and Goodman gives one of his best performances ever. Buscemi's character, sadly, is uninteresting. Julianne Moore plays the Dude's love interest and John Turturro turns in a stellar performance as Jesus Quintana, the bowler from Hell. Sam Elliott makes a cameo appearance as the mysterious stranger out of a B western.
"The Big Lebowski" lacks a plot and a big payoff at the end. There is no satisfactory beginning, middle or end to it, but it does have its moments. If you are a big Coen Brothers fan, or if you are one of those jaded people who mistake novelty for quality, you might even think this is a good film. To me, it is just barely better than average. It rates a C+.
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