Blu-ray Review: THE BIG LEBOWSKI

Universal Studios Home Entertainment
Release date: Aug 16, 2011
MSRP: $29.98

Director: Joel and Ethan Coen
Stars: Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Julianne Moore, Steve Buscemi,

Once upon a time, THE BIG LEBOWSKI was considered one of the  Coen Bros weaker films. But as time as gone on, it has gone from a cult classic to a film that is generally respected and considered a delightfully quirky character piece.

As is generally the case, Joel and Ethan put together a very strong cast of actors and  gave them a rich script full of colorful characters to inhabit. Watching the performances, you get the impression that Bridges and company had a lot of fun playing in the strange world of The Dude.

The world of The Dude contains bowling, pot, sex, carpet, White Russians, German nihilists, Jesus, the exceptional tunes of John Fogerty’s Creedance Clearwater Revival, two Jeff Lebowskis and good friends.

The center of the story (such as it is) is a case of mistaken identity. The Dude aka Jeff Lebowski is mistaken for Jeff Lebowski, the millionaire, by some thugs. One of said things pees on The Dude’s favorite rug. Dude then seeks out the Other Lebowski in hopes of getting some compensation for his rug. That Lebowski ends up enlisting The Dude’s assistance in freeing his  kidnapped ex-porn star wife.

The Dude enlists the aid of his bowling pals Walter (John Goodman), a Vietnam vet with a tendency to go into a rage at the drop of a hat, and Donny (Steve Buscemi), a sweet fellow that wants no problems with anyone and simply wants to get along.

The story does get more than a little convoluted, but the storyline is not what makes it magical; the mojo is in the rich characters and the glorification of the little things in life.

It is also very funny, without being obvious in its attempt to deliver humor. Too many comedies today are too blatant when they go for the funny. The Coen Brothers have faith in their cast and understand that some of the audience’s amusement will come from the performances and not the jokes on the page. That is helped by using good actors that know the difference between embracing a role and overacting.

Video: The Big Lebowski is presented in 1080p with a VC-1 codex and a 1.85:1 ratio. There is some grain in the picture, but I recall seeing that on the DVD as well. Looking into it, it sounds like it is simply a part of the film. I did not see TBL is the theater, but it does fit the overall vibe of the film.

Audio: The film is presented in DTS-HD 5.1. While TBL does not require a lot from it, it does show off the excellent use of background music. It definitely sounds better than the DVD version. There is more bass than I realized and it comes across nicely. Subtitles are presented in English SDH, French and Spanish.

Extras: Pretty much all of the extras from the Tenth Anniversary edition have been brought over, with a few extras. You gain the ability, with U control, to focus on the music as well as a running counter of swear words and “dudisms” in the film. A fun little thing, but one that got a old pretty quick.

As a fan of The Coen Brothers, I am a little biased, but I think The Dude and company deserve a place in the movie library of all film buffs.  This comes with a very nice book that features including an exclusive interview, Jeff Bridges’ on-set photography, a film timeline, trivia and more.

Jeremy Lynch