Before Jeff Bridges helped launch the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Obadiah Stane, Iron Man’s first villain, he was already a massive Hollywood star, going all the way back to Tron. During his long career and countless famous roles, one stands out above the rest, and that’s “The Dude.” The infamous crime comedy The Big Lebowski, from the Coen Brothers, is now streaming on Paramount+, and it should be watched again…and again…and again.
Jeff Bridges plays one of the greatest characters ever in The Big Lebowski, streaming on Paramount+.
Jeff Bridges is Jeffrey “The Dude” Lebowski, the greatest slacker in cinema, who happens to share a name with Jeffrey “Big” Lebowski (David Huddleston), the millionaire. Thugs looking to extort the millionaire arrive at The Dude’s pad and destroy his rug, forcing the slacker to leave the house and seek out compensation. From that small incident, a sprawling conspiracy filled with double-crossing, eccentric characters and some of the greatest quotes in movie history starts to unfold.
When the millionaire’s wife (a pre-American Pie Tara Reid) is kidnapped, he reaches out to The Dude to make the ransom hand-off, and immediately, everything falls apart. Walter, The Dude’s friend, and famously played by John Goodman, smells a set-up and keeps the ransom money. Maude Lebowski (Julianna Moore), the daughter of the Big Lebowski, gets involved, and it’s a testament to Jeff Bridges that he’s able to keep the sprawling plot grounded with his performance.
That’s especially impressive when, after a few more double-crosses and encounters with gangsters, Jeff Bridges gets to be front and center during a dream sequence musical number. In what might be the most elaborate scene ever shot by the Coen brothers, there are showgirls, props, Julianna Moore as a Valkyrie, bowling balls, and Saddam Hussein. Honestly, if you have never seen The Big Lebowski, none of these descriptions will make much sense, it has to be seen to be believed, but it’s a cult classic for a reason.
The Big Lebowski was a box office flop for Jeff Bridges, but the cultural impact has exceeded any other role in his career.
Despite playing the world’s biggest slacker, Jeff Bridges gets to be a little bit of an action star as the different groups trying to get their hands on The Big Lebowski’s money all come together for an explosive (literally) finale. The Coen brothers admit that the plot makes little sense and has very little impact on anything actually happens in the film, but it’s a wild ride and one of the funniest movies of all time.
If you’ve spent time on the Internet, you’ve come across quotes delivered by Jeff Bridges in The Big Lebowski, from “the dude abides” to “I’m The Dude. So, that’s what you call me. You know, that or, uh, His Dudeness, or, uh, Duder, or El Duderino, if you’re not into the whole brevity thing.” And then the all-time classic, perfect for any online debate, “That’s just, like, your opinion, man.” He’s not the only one with great lines, but his have stood the test of time.
The rest of the cast is just as accomplished as Jeff Bridges and John Goodman, including the always underrated Mark Pellegrino (one of those “that guy” actors), Steve Buscemi, John Turturro, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Peter Stormare, Sam Elliot as the Narrator, and Flea, yes, the Red Hot Chilli Pepper’s bassist, is in The Big Lebowski.
The Big Lebowski was not a major hit when it was first released, making only $18 million at the box office, but this is one of those times when the amount of money is meaningless compared to cultural impact. Despite continuing to star in major films, Jeff Bridges is forever considered The Dude; he even recently reprised the role for a Stella Artois Super Bowl commercial.
From “The Dude abides” to “that carpet really tied the room together,” Jeff Bridges gets some of the best lines of all time.
Upon watching The Big Lebowski, it’s easy to see why it’s had such an impact, Jeff Bridges’ delivery is the epitome of slacker-cool, remaining perfectly calm in every situation. It brings to mind another Jeff, the stoner Spicolli (played by Sean Penn) from Fast Times at Ridgemont High, assuming the famous beach bum grew up and became an avid bowler.
If you want to catch Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, and the rest of the cast at their absolute best, you can stream The Big Lebowski right now on Paramount+. At least one viewing is recommended, if for no other reason than to realize that one friend has been stealing quotes from this movie for decades.