BP’s Top 100 Challenge #23: The Big Lebowski, by Sarah Brinks
I decided to undertake a movie challenge in 2017. This seemed like a good way to see some classic movies that I have unfortunately never seen. The Battleship Pretension Top 100 list provided such a challenge.
I’m going to start this article with some truth: I don’t get it. I don’t get why people love The Big Lebowski so much. I am very eager to hear from people in the comments so I can try to understand the appeal. This was my second time seeing the film and it was fine, but I really don’t understand why it is so high on the Battleship Pretension Top 100 list. To be fair, I have always been a little hit or miss with the Coen Brothers’ work. I tend to enjoy their more recent work more than their older films.
That being said, there is a lot to enjoy about The Big Lebowski. The film is very funny and has many wonderful performances. The story is clever and it is well made, but that can be said of many other films that are not considered to be one of top 100 of all time. Jeff Bridges is a lot of fun in the film. His stoner, laid-back vibe is consistent and delightful throughout the film. John Goodman was a real stand out in the film for me. His damaged Vietnam Vet character was obnoxious but endlessly entertaining. The way he makes almost every scene he is in incredibly awkward is immensely entertaining. Many of the smaller performances in the film are also very entertaining, like Philip Seymour Hoffman as the lame errand boy Brandt or Steve Buscemi as the unfortunate Donny.
Admittedly, I struggle sometimes with the weirder elements of films. The Big Lebowski definitely has some really weird parts. There are a few sequences when The Dude imagines himself flying or as a bowling ball that were just odd and didn’t add anything to the film. They were sometime visually interesting but that was about as much as I got out of them. I also don’t think I understand how Sam Elliot fits into the story. Sam Elliot is always a welcome presence and I enjoyed his narration, but I’m not sure what his purpose was. I also found Julianne Moore’s character of Maude dumbfounding but entertaining.
I do like the clever story telling. It keeps you guessing throughout. The script is tightly structured and there are some very memorable lines. But that is what the Coens are known for. Ultimately it is a pretty small story where things just get blown way out of proportion due to some misunderstandings. I wish I had more to say about the film but, like I said in the beginning, I just don’t get it.
I’ve decided to rate each film using an arbitrary scale based on the board game Battleship (lowest: Destroyer, Submarine, Cruiser, Battleship, highest: Carrier)
The Big Lebowski ranking: Submarine