5. The Big Lebowski
directed by Joel and Ethan Coen
The Coen Brothers take the hard boiled film noir formula from The Big Sleep, twinge it just enough and somehow one the funniest movies ever pops out. The Big Lebowski isn’t exactly a spoof, and you need no real knowledge to its cinematic connections, but it plays with the tropes in a compelling way. Instead of being wrapped up in a murder conspiracy, The Dude (Jeff Bridges) must battle thugs and the occasional nihilist when he is mistakenly taken for the millionaire Lebowski, whose young wife, Bunny, has gone missing. The complicated plot of The Big Lebowski works to its advantage as it punctuates its craziness with conversation scenes with its cast of kooky characters. The film’s bowling alley scenes are particularly hilarious, with the low-key Dude and clueless Donny (Steve Buscemi) playing off John Goodman’s aggressive Walter Sobchak — the quick banter of the “shomer shobbos” is in the comedy pantheon. The Dude redefined Bridges’s career from the handsome A-lister to a grizzled comedic character actor. The Big Lebowski also gets bonus points for being a stoner comedy that is actually palatable.