(In theaters, November 1998) A typical “noir” plot starring a drug-using low-life unemployed -but cool- loser in the detective role: The Dude. Up to the Coen Brother’s usual standards of general weirdness and narrative drive, The Big Lebowski is hilarious. A great cast of great characters (Julianne Moore’s feminist caricature is almost as funny as bowler “Jesus” or the German nihilists) and a series of barely-related vignettes also helps. Not as coherent as it could have been, but still one pretty good comedy.
(Second viewing, On VHS, September 2000) One of those rare comedies which appreciates with further viewings. Subtle details pop up, and since the humor is based more on finely-tuned incongruousness than surprising situations, the film is not harmed by knowing what’s coming up. It’s also far easier to see the obvious parallels between the Coen Brother’s script and the usual noir plot template. (Basically, steal an obvious noir plot, drop a pothead slacker in the middle of it and watch how everything is screwed up by the unwilling participant. Don’t tell anyone, but it’s a great literary experiment.) On the other hand, the conclusion isn’t as strong, as it becomes obvious that the film runs an extra ten minutes after everything is wrapped up. Still worth a good look.