The Big Lebowski is a 1998 American comedy film with elements of noir written and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen. Jeff Bridges stars as Jeff Lebowski, an unemployed Los Angeles slacker and avid bowler, who is referred to (and also refers to himself) as "The Dude". After a case of mistaken identity, The Dude is introduced to a millionaire also named Jeffrey Lebowski. When the millionaire Lebowski's trophy wife is later kidnap, he commissions The Dude to deliver the ransom to secure her release. The plan goes awry when The Dude's friend Walter Sobchak (John Goodman) schemes to keep the full ransom. Steve Buscemi, Philip Seymour Hoffman, David Huddleston, Julianne Moore, Tara Reid and John Turturro star in the film, which is narrated by a cowboy known only as "Stranger," played by Sam Elliott.
The film's structure has been compared to Raymond Chandler's novel, The Big Sleep. The original score was composed by Carter Burwell, a longtime collaborator of the Coen Brothers. The Big Lebowski failed domestically at the U.S. box office and received mixed reviews at the time of its release. Reviews have trended towards the positive over time, and the film has become a cult favorite, noted for its idiosyncratic characters, surrealistic dream sequences, unconventional dialogue, and eclectic soundtrack. Devoted fans in Louisville, Kentucky created the Lebowski Fest in 2002, which has since expanded to several other cities.
In 1991, Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski returns home only to be roughed up by two thugs claiming to be collecting money that Lebowski's wife owes a man named Jackie Treehorn. After beating him and urinating on his rug, they realize they are looking for a different person with the same name, and they leave. At the instigation of his friend and bowling teammate Walter Sobchak (Goodman), The Dude decides to seek compensation for the rug from the other Jeffrey Lebowski. The next day, the titular "Big" Lebowski, a wheelchair-bound millionaire, refuses The Dude's request. The Dude meets Bunny Lebowski (Reid), the Big Lebowski's nymphomania trophy wife, while leaving the premises with a rug taken from the mansion.
Days later, the Big Lebowski contacts The Dude, revealing that Bunny has been kidnapped. He asks The Dude to act as a courier for the million-dollar ransom because The Dude will be able to confirm whether or not the kidnappers were the same thugs. Later, a different set of thugs enter The Dude's apartment, knock him unconscious, and steal his new rug. When Bunny's kidnappers call to arrange the ransom exchange, Walter tries to convince The Dude to keep the money and give the kidnappers a "ringer" suitcase filled with dirty underwear. The kidnappers escape with the ringer, and The Dude and Walter are left with the million-dollar ransom. Later that night, The Dude's car is stolen, along with the briefcase filled with money. The Dude receives a message from the Big Lebowski's daughter, Maude, who admits to hiring the criminals who knocked him unconscious. The Dude visits her at her art studio, and she reveals that Bunny is a porn starlet working for Jackie Treehorn. She agrees with The Dude's suspicion that Bunny kidnapped herself and asks The Dude to recover the ransom, as it was illegally withdrawn by her father.
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Links: Wikipedia: The Big Lebowski IMDB: Big Lebowski Analysis of Walter Shobchak