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The Big Lebowski

They figured he was a lazy time wasting slacker. They were right.

The Big Lebowski (1998) is a American comedy film written and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen. The plot of this Raymond Chandler-esque comedy crime caper pivots around a case of mistaken identity complicated by extortion, double-crosses, deception, embezzlement, sex, pot, and gallons of White Russians (made with fresh cream, please). In 1991, unemployed ’60s refugee Jeff “The Dude” Lebowski (Jeff Bridges) grooves into his laid-back Los Angeles lifestyle. One of the laziest men in LA, he enjoys hanging with his bowling buddies, pompous security-store owner Walter Sobchak (John Goodman) and mild-mannered ex-surfer Donny (Steve Buscemi). However, the Dude’s life takes an alternate route the afternoon two goons break into his threadbare Venice, California, bungalow, rough him up, and urinate on his living room rug. Why? Because Jackie Treehorn (Ben Gazzara) is owed money by the wife of a certain Jeff Lebowski. However, the goons grabbed the wrong Jeff Lebowski. The Dude looks up his wealthy namesake, manages to get a replacement for his rug, and meets the millionaire’s sexy young wife Bunny (Tara Reid). Later, Jeffrey (“The Big”) Lebowski calls in the Dude to deliver a $1 million ransom for the return of his kidnapped wife. Fine except that Walter intrudes and botches the ransom drop. As events unravel, the Dude gets caught up in the schemes of Lebowski’s daughter, erotic artist Maude (Julianne Moore), encounters both cops and bad guys, and drifts through an elaborate bowling fantasy sequence titled Gutterballs. The soundtrack includes Bob Dylan, Yma Sumac, Moondog, Captain Beefheart, and the Sons of the Pioneers. The original score was composed by Carter Burwell, a longtime collaborator of the Coen Brothers.

The movie was not an immediate commercial success but it received generally positive reviews from critics. The film, noted for its idiosyncratic characters, surreal dream sequences, unconventional dialogue, and eclectic soundtrack, has become a cult favorite and has been called “the first cult film of the Internet era.” The film’s devoted fans have spawned Lebowski Fest, an annual festival that started in Louisville, Kentucky in 2002 and has since expanded to several other cities.

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