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Big Lebowski, The (Blu-ray Review)

12 Aug, 2011 By: John Latchem

Street 8/16/11
$29.98 Blu-ray
Rated ‘R’ for pervasive strong language, drug content, sexuality and brief violence.
Stars Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman, John Turturro, Sam Elliott, Peter Stormare, Tara Reid.

Throw on a bathrobe, grab some white Russians and get ready to immerse yourself in the off-kilter farce that is The Big Lebowski in glorious 1080p.

Wait, you think Lebowski is too much of an insubstantial follow-up for the Coen Brothers following the accolades heaped upon them in 1996 for Fargo? Yeah, well, that’s just like, your opinion man.

What we have here, man, is a Coen classic out of ’98 loosely based on Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep. Pretty far out, right?

Although this is more like an accidental detective story, with The Dude (Jeff Bridges) drawn into a fake kidnapping scheme and doing everything he can to get back to his normal routine of blazing up, hitting the bowling alley and immersing himself in the serenity of the lanes. It doesn’t help that his blowhard bestie, Walter Sobchak (John Goodman), is hell bent on attacking everything in sight.

So The Dude stumbles through the plot (and life) like a Christ-figure for the modern slacker, sinning for the rest of us and not really giving a crap. Except he cares about his rug, which really ties the room together. And maybe his car, which is pretty thoroughly trashed during the movie.

Is there a deeper meaning to all this? Have the Coens crafted a parable for our two-party system, drawing a line between Walter’s aggressive style and The Dude’s laid-back diplomacy, with their meek pal, Donny (Steve Buscemi), serving as the everyman caught in the middle? Is it just a bowling-is-life metaphor, a game of strikes and gutters, ups and downs?

Does it matter?

Maybe there isn’t much of a point beyond embracing the film’s infectious let-it-ride attitude, eminently quotable dialogue, soulful soundtrack and a population of characters who exist in their own little universe all kind of colliding with each other in one big stream-of-consciousness hotbox for the audience to inhale.

As for the Blu-ray, well, it’s essentially the 10th anniversary DVD translated to high-def, so it carries over most of the old extras, such as the tongue-in-cheek intro from a fake film preservationist, a few making-of retrospectives and a profile of the annual Lebowski Fest confab.

The Blu-ray comes packed in a digibook that contains character profiles, trivia, a few pages of Jeff Bridges’ on-set photography, and a profile of Coen pal Jeff Dowd, who provided the inspiration for The Dude.

On-screen extras include an in-movie scorecard for the various Dudeisms and curse words spouted throughout the film; pop-up information for the music as it plays during the movie; and a tame picture-in-picture mode with footage that looks like it was taken from the 10th anniversary interviews. While it would be cool for all these to play out at the same time, they’re on separate tracks so you can only pick one at a time.

You also can play the film with a trivia mode and play against a friend in shouting out the next line of dialogue during certain scenes, though the choice points don’t seem to come up as often as you’d expect.

Not that it matters, since this isn’t really a movie that ever embraced expectations, right? And that, at its core, is what makes The Big Lebowski so special. The Dude abides in any format.

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