The Big Lebowski Essay

3719 Words Nov 26th, 2011 15 Pages
Mike Preston
Lisa Hemminger
Art is Film
26 February 2010
“All the Dude ever wanted was his rug back”

To the casual viewer The Big Lebowski, a 1998 film written by film maker brothers Ethan and Joel Coen and directed by Joel, would appear to be a comedy rip off of the 1940’s Los Angeles detective film The Big Sleep by Howard Hawks. It features a hippie dropout from the seventies named “the Dude” (Jeff Bridges) who gets caught up with his bowler buddies Walter (John Goodman) and Donny (Steve Buscemi) in a case of mistaken identity and a search for a presumed kidnap victim. Like Thornhill (Cary Grant) in North by Northwest he becomes a reluctant detective. However, The Dude is the polar opposite of the suave and resourceful Thornhill
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Peter Howell, in his review for the Toronto Star, wrote, "It's hard to believe that this is the work of a team that won an Oscar last year for the original screenplay of Fargo” (qtd. in "The Big Lebowski"). While the Coen’s previous academy award winning movie Fargo grossed 25 million, Lebowski only grossed 10 million in the American theaters (qtd. in Levine). Other classic films have suffered the same problems of poor initial acceptance by audiences and critics. For instance North by Northwest is named one of the top ten mystery films by the American Film Institute yet it has never won an Oscar and it took years before it was considered one of Hitchcock’s greatest movies ("Alfred Hitchcock")(North By Northwest DVD). Based on the worship of fans including Lebowski fests, numerous web sites, articles, a religion, and books dedicated to The Big Lebowski, I think it is finally gaining the classic status it deserves. Clark Collis of Entertainment Weekly recently blogged “The Big Lebowski has had a far richer afterlife than your average box office dud” (Entertainment Weekly and Collis, "An Icon Lives On ''The Big Lebowski's” lasting legacy -- Why DVD releases, Lebowski fests, and cartoon imitations keep the 'Dude' relevant today"). There is an argument to be made that it is only a cult classic, however as the dude would say, “I got new information, new shit has come to light”. For instance, Entertainment Weekly now ranks The Big Lebowski

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