Comedy

The Big Lebowski (1998) - Joel & Ethan Coen

TREMENDOUS COMEDY - 99/100

Directors: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen (uncredited)
Writers: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Stars: Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Julianne Moore
RATED: R
Country: USA
Language: English
Release Date: 6 March 1998
Budget: $15,000,000
Gross USA: $17,498,804
Production Co: Polygram Filmed Entertainment, Working Title Films

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The Big Lebowski is a comedic mystery from the Coen brothers, distributed in 1998. It stars Jeff Bridges in his most iconic role as the burnt-out slacker, Jeffrey Lebowski, known to everybody as The Dude. Bridges is accompanied by John Goodman and Steve Buscemi. We also get performances from Philip Seymour Hoffman, Julianne Moore, David Huddleston, John Turturro and even Tara Reid. I had first come across this picture late one evening on HBO. I was quickly enamored and very fascinated with the witty comedy and style. This was the movie that sparked my interest in films.

Jeffrey Lebowski, or The Dude, is just a laid back stoner that meanders through life, and occasionally gets into strange experiences. His best allies are a deranged Vietnam vet named Walter, and his sheepish sidekick Donnie. The Dude likes to employ his time bowling, drinking White Russians, and living in Zen. So when two thugs rough up his place, confusing him for a rich Jeffrey Lebowski. The Dude is less than happy. He is sunk into a world of mystery, sex and intrigue. But the Dude just wants to roll!

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The Coen brothers had come up with the concept for The Big Lebowski alongside their dramatic gem, Fargo. Confidence had been firmer with Fargo, and that was released first. The Big Lebowski was distributed by PolyGram and Working Title Films in 1998. It got mixed reviews at the box-office and recovered much more life on cable, VHS and DVD sales. Gaining a cult following. There is even an annual festival devoted to it called Lebowski Fest. I linked to the current 2018 festival here.

The writing is the strongest element here. The characters are rich; the dialogue is witty and interesting; the world is built masterfully. The Coen’s had drawn inspiration from the detective pulp stories of the thirties and forties. They noted Raymond Chandler as a big influence. Also drawing on their surroundings in early nineties Los Angeles. It’s the perfect California movie. I love how elements throughout the film play back into each other in the dialogue and in the surroundings. Again, this is some really strong writing.

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The acting is truly on point. Everyone plays their characters perfectly, and they are all quotable. The Dude character was based on a friend of the Coen’s, Jeffrey Dowd. And Jeff Bridges brings everything his role asks for. He and John Goodman have an amazing dynamic. The Dude comes off as such a genuine character that everyone can identify with. I think that's the reason for his reputation. The Dude represents that part of us that wants to chill-out and be mellow. Deep down everyone wants to be the Dude.

The Big Lebowski is excellent. It has everything that you could want from a film. A great story line full of comedy, drama, adventure, mystery and suspense. Tremendous acting from top notch actors with bonus added cameos from surprise stars. Quotable lines. A deep and rich world. It literally ticks every single box in film-making 101. If you are a fan of comedies, please check this out. Also, I am writing this on April 20th 2018, that’s 4/20 for my ent’s out there. If you're a fan of movies like Pineapple Express or Cheech & Chong, then I think you’re going to embrace this!

The Big Lebowski gets 99/100

Clerks. (1994) - Kevin Smith

GREAT COMEDY - 92/100

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A hilarious comedy from Kevin Smith that's relatable to just about anyone.

Directed by: Kevin Smith

Produced by: Scott Mosier and Kevin Smith

Written by: Kevin Smith

Starring: Brian O'Halloran, Jeff Anderson, Marilyn Ghigliotti, Lisa Spoonauer, Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith

Studio: View Askew Productions and Miramax Films

Release date: October 19, 1994

Budget: $27,575

Box office: $3.2 million

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Clerks. is an independent comedy from Kevin Smith, released in 1994. It is quite possibly the most independent film ever made. Famously, the filmmaker and his friends had to max out all of their credit cards to finance the filming of the picture. But it paid off, because Clerks. has gone down in history as one of the most important indie films of all time. Cementing low-budget film making in the mainstream.

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The plot is simple, almost too simple. Dante and Randal are two clerks running the Quick Stop Convenience and RST Video Stores, in a quiet suburb of New Jersey. Dante was called into work on his day off, and has compounding issues throughout the day. We get to focus on his struggle to maintain order at the Quick Stop, play hockey, go to a wake and balance his love life. All while his best friend and coworker, Randal commentates from the sidelines. We are also introduced to Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Kevin Smith), two cheebed-up drug dealers that loiter outside of both stores and thread together the bulk of Smith's work.

Clerks. is the beginning of Kevin Smith's View Askewniverse and the best example of the strengths in his work. It's a tremendous comedy that has more relatability than most other films. The tight, black-and-white static shots of our characters talking makes up a good 85% of the picture. And that style makes it more comforting and familiar. That style is what keeps it so relevant with young people today.

Jeff Anderson (Randall) and Brian O’Halloran (Dante) feel so natural as buddies. A scene featuring their back-and-forth about Star Wars’ independent contractors dying is a perfect example of Smith's top notch writing. The acting slips up quite a bit, but it's forgivable. The films charm far outweighs the negative and graphic conversations. It's too good to give any focus to the negative cracks.

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Clerks, Pulp Fiction and Swingers shaped cinema for me in the nineties. It blew my mind open to the possibility that my friends and I could express ourselves artistically without it being a financially impossible task. Clerks speaks to everyone and it's inspired so many. If you are a fan of comedy, or just a fan of cinema in general. Then I implore you to check this out. It's a wonderful movie and a shining example of what Kevin Smith can do.