The dude abides. He most definitely abides and now we have a chance to see Jeff Bridges in one of his most iconic roles. That’s right, The Big Lebowski is currently on Netflix if you want to take a trip down cult classic memory lane. If there’s a role that defines Jeff Bridges and his career, this might just be it and now you can stream it to your heart’s delight.
The Big Lebowski follows Jeff Bridges as Jeffrey “The Dude” Lebowski, a stoner slacker who lives life in the slow and steady pace of a Californian with few worries except pot, White Russians, bowling, and an ornamental rug or two. Things start off with The Dude being confused as another man with the same name, a rich man with debts to pay. The Dude’s apartment is broken into and he’s assaulted by some mystery men who realize they have the wrong dude, but mess things up anyway.
This somewhat chance encounter sets off a series of events the has Jeff Bridges as The Dude landing smack in the middle of a harebrained scheme on the part of a number of folks to extract money out of a kidnapping and ransom. Bridges plays the aging stoner to a tee, vacillating between the open bathrobe and slippers over to the cardigan sweater and surfer shorts. There’s a devil-may-care attitude towards his life as a whole and though he’s in the middle of a caper, he’s still mostly moving in slow motion. Check out the trailer for The Big Lebowski which just barely does the movie justice:
It’s an iconic performance for Jeff Bridges who’s been copied and emulated in the tone and style that he brought to The Dude. Though there’s kidnapping, ransoms, shootouts, twists and turns, head fakes, and many a Los Angeles party, The Dude approaches all of it with a cool calm that comes in stark contrast to almost everything else around him. It’s a hilarious and sublime plot with Bridges carrying the movie throughout.
The Big Lebowski was written and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen, the follow-up film to their award winning Fargo. This flick, while different in style and tone, did have some overlap with that one. It’s a mystery with characters who are wholly out of their depth and a lead character who is mostly along for the proverbial ride, meeting all manner of ridiculous folks around him/ her. In this way, Jeff Bridges, like Frances McDormand, was cast perfectly.
And the rest of the cast of The Big Lebowski is amazing as well with everyone bringing their own bits of dark humor to the proceedings. Joining Jeff Bridges in his trio of friends is John Goodman and Steve Buscemi as Walter and Donny respectively, a bowling group for the ages. Plus there’s Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman, John Turturro, Tara Reid, and of course Sam Elliott as the sasparilla-drinking bowling alley sage. All mash up together into a totally surreal set of characters.
The Big Lebowski didn’t receive the same awards season attention as Fargo but has become a total cult classic over the years. Its group of adoring fans are quick to emulate the Jeff Bridges style from the film and screenings are held in which fans enjoy the cosplay as much as you’d see from a superhero franchise. In this way, Bridges’ character has become something of a hero in how he approached life among other things. It was a critical hit at the time, scoring 83% on Rotten Tomatoes. And though its fame increased steadily after it left theaters, it was still able to snag around $46 million at the box office on its $15 million budget.
Next up for Jeff Bridges will be in The Old Man, a television series about a former CIA agent on the run after being targeted in an assassination The show is based on a novel of the same name. It’s set to release on FX on Hulu later this year. In the meantime, make it a point to check out Bridges in The Big Lebowski. If it’s for the first time or the 50th, this movie is one of the greats.