Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Big Lebowski. B-

As far as the Coen brother's diverse filmography goes, I'd have to say that I have been more impressed with their dark thrillers (classics like 'Fargo,' 'The Man Who Wasn't There,' and 'No Country For Old Men') than their quirky comedies like 'Raising Arizona,' 'Burn After Reading,' and, well, 'The Big Lebowski.' It's not that these movies aren't good, it's just that I never leave them feeling truly satisfied. In 'Lebowski,' the Coens introduce one of their more interesting characters, Jeffery Lebowski, AKA 'The Dude' (Jeff Bridges). The Dude is an unsympathetic, unemployed slacker who rarely changes out of his musty looking bath robe. After The Dude, who loves to bowl with his buddies (Walter, played by John Goodman, and Donny, Steve Buscemi), is mistaken for a different man named Lebowski, he finds himself caught up in a web of ransom, deceit, and murder. As in most Coen brothers comedies, the central characters are very stupid, which often leads to uncontrolled laughter. Walter is especially dim, and I found myself cracking up when he smashes up a car he believes belongs to a guilty looking teenager. It turns out it's the new car the boy's neighbor just bought. As far as the bowling goes, it's just sort of there to make the movie interesting. It has nothing to do with the overall plot, though I sort of wish it did. There is plenty to like here, including some surprising appearances by Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and David Thewlis, plus the laughs are pretty consistent. But I found myself wary of the extensive plot, and enjoying the odd little moments more than the actual story and characters.

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