Dir: Joel Coen
A bit of a lost Coen Brothers movie for me, I saw it in the theater and that was about it. But it has gained a cult following despite me, so it was high time to reintroduce myself to it.
The strength of Lebowski is in its collection of anti-heroes, Jeff Bridges and John Goodman. This may be the big man's comedic masterpiece, a well written character that is taken to the next level but his empassioned performance. The combination of paranoia, fool's confidence, intelligence and total ignorace is very fun to watch, and gives Goodman a great platform to show off his talents. Bridges is far more constrained, reduced to befuddlement at his predicament. He is stoic and selfish while the crazyness surrounds him. But "The Dude" does get the best catch phrases, a dynamic that contributes to the film's popularity more so than the story itself.
The weakness of Lebowski is in that story, an attempted deconstrcution of the kindapping mystery that I think trips over its own cleverness at times. In Raising Arizona, the humor was character based and the silly plot never got in the way. Here, the Coens put a lot of stock in twists and turns in the story, and that can be tricky if you don't pull it off prefectly. The Usual Suspects gets it; Hitchcock got it; Lebowski misses the mark.
The film has some very interesting characters who unfortunately get all mixed up in a passable but hardly transcendent storyline. This is like a high class SNL skit, some resonant phrases and crazy characters but not much else. That's entertaining, sure, and "The Marcus abides" may even make it into my lexicon. But this is not among the Coen Brothers' best.