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The Big Lebowski: Collector's Edition

Review Written by: Will Penley
Film: B+
Video/Audio/Extras: B-/B+/C-

Directed by: Joel Coen
Written by: Joel Coen and Ethan Coen
Produced by: Ethan Coen
Starring: Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, John Turturro, Julianne Moore, David Huddleston, Tara Reid
Buy it!, Buy it, rent it or skip it: Buy it

After striking Oscar gold with 1996's Fargo, Joel and Ethan Coen had to make a film that was equally as good as or better than their previous one. With that, they were off to make one of the most outlandish comedies in years...The Big Lebowski. However, there was a man without whom the Coens never could have succeeded in doing so, an acquaintance of theirs named Jeff Dowd or, as he preferred to be called, The Dude, who was the inspiration for the film's main character. After writing one of the most brilliant scripts ever written (and probably working closely with The Dude while doing so), the Coens felt that they had what it took to make a follow-up to Fargo that would meet the expectations of audiences everywhere.

The Dude (Jeff Bridges), also known as Jeffrey Lebowski, is the laziest man in all of Los Angeles. He enjoys bowling, marijuana and listening to lots and lots of Creedence tapes. After arriving home late one night, he finds that a couple of thugs have broken into his house, looking for the other Jeffrey Lebowski, a far wealthier man than The Dude. And not only do they rough The Dude (and his house) up, but one has the nerve to pee on his beloved rug! Well, that rug really tied the room together. At the suggestion of his bowling buddies, Walter Sobchak (John Goodman) and Donny Kerabatsos (Steve Buscemi), The Dude goes to the home of the other Jeffrey Lebowski and demands a replacement rug, which, little to his knowledge, leads him into a situation involving mistaken identity, kidnapping, a million dollars and a diverse cast of unforgettable characters, including Lebowski's wife and daughter, a pornography mogul, a team of nihilists, Sadaam Hussein and Jesus. That is, Jesus Quintana (John Turturro), The Dude's bowling adversary.

When it comes to comedy, you can't do much better than The Big Lebowski. A great script combined with fantastic characters and implausible situations make this one a real winner. The cast is just about perfect in their respective roles, and everyone is wickedly funny throughout the whole film. If it's laughs your looking for, this one's the way to go.

The Big Lebowski had been previously released on DVD by Polygram, and now it has been given a re-release from Universal. The 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen video on this disc is a fairly well-done transfer with very little grain or scratches present throughout. The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track is very well-done as well. All the dialogue is very clear as are the atmospheric sounds of The Dude's dream sequences.

The extras department is where this disc falls short, with a selection of very limited extras. First, there is a humorous introduction to the film by Mortimer Young of Forever Young Film Preservation. There is also a twenty-five minute behind-the-scenes featurette with dozens of interviews with the cast and crew as well as footage shot on the set. New to this release is a series of photos taken by Jeff Bridges during production, which are presented in a three-minute montage. Rounding out the disc's extras are a few screens of production notes.

Even though the extras are very sparse, I must recommend this DVD because the film is one of the funniest I've ever seen. If you're a fan of the Coens' work or comedies in general, you'll be very happy with The Big Lebowski.

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