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The Big Lebowski

The Big Lebowski is a 1998 Joel and Ethan Coen film. In the film The Dude, Jeff Lebowski (played by Jeff Bridges), has his home invaded and his rug urinated upon by thugs looking for a multi-millionaire Jeff Lebowski (David Huddleston[?]) who is disabled, according to his servant Brandt (Philip Seymour Hoffman[?]), and keeps a tidier house. Since the thugs were looking to collect a debt incurred by the wife of the multimillionaire Lebowski, The Dude goes to speak to him to get a new rug, and quickly becomes entangled in a kidnapping scheme.

Warning: Wikipedia contains spoilers

The plot is full of holes, though this is not a criticism -- the actual events which take place are not intended to particuarly make sense. The storyline is a frame upon which the humorous situations and characterization can be hung. The most important plot hole is the origin of the kidnapping note; there is no character who would have written it at the time it was written (the millionaire Lebowski would have waited until his wife was gone for more than one day; the German nihilists had no reason to be involved until after the kidnapping).

The Big Lebowski is a cult film, in that it received mediocre or moderately positive reviews, generally, but sales were and remain slim. One reason is the anti-hero status of The Dude, whose refusal to be forceful makes him difficult to sympathize with, as well as the general eccentricity of all the primary players in the plot:

  • The Dude - cannabis-smoking anti-hero, whose ambition is limited to obtaining compensation for his rug
  • Walter Sobchak - a Jewish convert and Vietnam War vet whose mental instability provides much of the comedy of the film; he is paranoid and his constant interference in the events of the story are the impetus for much of the action. Walter is, in a strict literary sense, the main character of the story, as he is the one that grows and changes as a result of the events.
  • Donny - the third member of Walter and The Dude's bowling team, forever out of touch with events and trying to catch up, and constantly being told to shut up.
  • Jeff Lebowski - a wheelchair bound multi-millionaire married to a young pretty woman, Bunny; his motives are perennially unclear
  • Bunny - Jeff Lebowski's wife, a young playbunny who has run away from her family in Minnesota; she is supposedly kidnapped, but the end of the film reveals that she has merely disappeared for a weekend without telling anyone
  • Brant - Jeff Lebowski's butler, constantly nervous and echoing his boss
  • Maude Lebowski - Jeff Lebowski's daughter, a militant feminist avant-garde performing artist who believes her father is corrupt, and wants to make sure she gets his money instead of Bunny
  • Jackie Treehorn - a porn film director, who used to direct movies with Bunny.
  • The German nihilists - a group of German immigrants who claim to the believe in nihilism, though their actions belie this; they work for Treehorn (musicians Flea of The Red Hot Chili Peppers and Aimee Mann[?] play two of the nihilists)

The plot is based very loosely on Raymond Chandler's The Big Sleep and the Humphrey Bogart film of that book, but has been modernized and revolves around marijuana and ten pin bowling[?], and makes liberal use of the Gulf War as a backdrop. Stars Jeff Bridges, John Goodman[?], Julianne Moore, John Turturro[?], and Steve Buscemi.



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