Those who preferred the cut-and-dry, linear plotline of the Coen brothers' Fargo (1996) might be advised to stay away from the duo's gleefully absurd follow-up, The Big Lebowski. The film doesn't have much use for established storytelling techniques; it's more of a series of bizarre vignettes, which might be a problem if they weren't so funny. The title character, brilliantly played by Jeff Bridges, is a latter-day, stoner version of Philip Marlowe; it's one of the many homages the Coens make to films of decades past. The supporting players -- including John Goodman as Lebowski's buddy, and John Turturro as the wonderfully profane bowling champ Jesus -- are excellent as well. Lebowski performed tepidly at the box office, perhaps because of the inevitable post-Fargo backlash. Much like the Coens' earlier cult classic Raising Arizona (1987), it's the kind of film that audiences either love or hate.
by Matthew Doberman review