I wrote a few weeks back that it’s an odd feeling when you finally see that film that everyone and their brother has been exclaiming about for years. That is the exact feeling I felt after seeing The Big Lebowski. I knew for years that this film would be great, especially after seeing Fargo before. Boy was I right as The Big Lebowski was a huge humor trip.
Jeffrey Lebowski a.k.a. “The Dude” (Jeff Bridges) is your run of the mill slacker. He doesn’t really do much with his life besides …et constantly stoned with his buddies at the local bowling alley. Donny (Steve Buscemi), Walter (John Goodman), and Jesus (John Turturro) are his buddies. One night Jeff comes home to find a pair of thugs sitting in his home. Turns out these thugs think Jeff is some type of ultra millionaire. They soon threaten his life, demanding he pay the debt he owes. Obviously Jeff is completely lost by this situation. After consulting his buddies, Jeff and his buddies soon find themselves wrapped up in a big kidnapping plot. The rest of the film sees our main characters bumble around in a manner that was consistently entertaining and amusing.
The Big Lebowski is such an enjoyable and entertaining film simply because the characters the Coen brothers create are, simply that, enjoyable and entertaining. “The Dude” is a hilarious stoner that does what he wants with his buddies. Basically view him as the type of person we are when we go out with our friends. We do what we want, with little remorse of consequence or care. The film itself was funny as “The Dude” and his cohorts try to figure out what they should do as they’ve become wrapped up in this mix-up of a situation.
I’ve only seen one other Coen Brothers film before, that being 1996’s Fargo, which was a gem of a film. While The Big Lebowski wasn’t quite as excellent as Fargo, the film is still highly entertaining solely because of the laughs that come from watching “The Dude” and his buddies figure out a way of their mess called their life.
Presented in a 1080p, VC-1 Encoded, 1:85:1 widescreen aspect ratio, The Big Lebowski hits the hi-def format with a mostly pleasing picture.
Color usage, when compared to the SD counterpart, has been improved with solid oranges, blacks and blues. I particularly enjoyed how one of the film’s settings (the bowling alley) looked impressive. I expected a rather drab, dull looking set as most bowling alleys have that old look to them. The detail here is great, with little noticeable details becoming all that more clear with hi-def (the facial hair’s, the little scratches and dents in the floors, etc). Grain is mostly kept to a minimum, with EE somewhat creeping in during some of the brighter sequences. Overall this is another solid catalogue title from Universal.
Arriving with the standard Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 audio track, The Big Lebowski isn’t the exact type of film one might want to grab for a demo, but does boast a good enough audio experience.
Dialogue, which makes up a majority of the film, was clear and always easy to understand. Dynamic Range is active for the most part during the bowling sequences, but lacked the overall atmosphere other titles provide. I know a comedy type film doesn’t have a lot going on, but this one felt kind of flat and well empty. Surround usage was better than the effects as the sound design accompanied the solid bass in a convincing manner. Overall, this is a good enough audio track, but lacked the overall drive most hi-def films have.
- Introduction: Here we get a brief (4 minute) introduction from Mortimer Young
- Making of: Running 24 minutes, this making of features comments from both Coen brothers and is entertaining throughout. We also get a few comments from stars Jeff Bridges and John Goodman. This one is definitely worth checking out for fans of the film.
- Photographs by Jeff Bridges: Running 3 minutes, this one goes exactly as states. The unfortunate part here is that most of the images, while beautiful, look poor in SD.
Finally The Big Lebowski has arrived on HD. Fans are sure to snap this one up, but those who are casual will more than likely leave this one for a rental despite the improved video, good audio and interesting, if weak, supplements.
Special Features List
- Making of
- Photographs by Jeff Bridges