Review: The Big Lebowski Blu-ray Book

The Big Lebowski Blu-ray boxSTUDIO: Universal | DIRECTOR: Coen Brothers | CAST: Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Julianne Moore, Sam Elliot
RELEASE DATE: 8/16/2011 | PRICE: Blu-ray Book $29.98
BONUSES: featurettes, trivia game, digital copy
SPECS: R | 119 min. | Comedy | 1.85:1 aspect ratio | 5.1 DTS-HD audio | English, Spanish and French subtitles
RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

The Big LebowskiA cult movie if ever there was one, The Big Lebowski made its Blu-ray debut in style, in a nicely produced Blu-ray Book with new and older special features. This is not the film’s high-definition debut. The Coen brothers’ comedy was released on HD DVD when that format was still around, but this Blu-ray is an improvement on the earlier high-def version.

First off, the movie looks brilliant. Although the beauty of this film comes from the laughs, the characters and the situations, it’s still nice to see all the action looking so clear and the colors so bright. The reds and blues in The Dude’s newly acquired rug stand out, a nice punctuation against his drab apartment, and the milk and caucasian Jeff Bridge’s (Tron: Legacy) The Dude is constantly sucking off his moustache is perhaps a little too crystal. And the sound of that sucking — as cringe-worthy as that is — as well as the great soundtrack, including The Eagles’ “Hotel California” among others, is equally gorgeous.

The story is as good as ever: Bridge’s The Dude, real name Jeffrey Lebowski, is an unemployed layabout who has a penchant for White Russians and bowling. When he’s mistaken for another Jeffrey Lebowski, his rich and successful antithesist, The Dude gets caught up in a series of misunderstandings, a kidnapping, bad ransom handover, stolen car, bowling mishaps and more. And all of it comes with the Coen brothers’ signature offbeat wit.

That wit wasn’t always as appreciated as it is now, and the film’s rise to cult status is explored in a number of featurettes, all of which were made for the movie’s 10th Anniversary DVD released in 2008. In “The Dude Abides,” Julianne Moore (A Single Man) remembers how much she loved the The Big Lebowski from its first screening and how surprised she was that it got a lukewarm response from critics. Bridges, Steve Buscemi (Youth in Revolt), John Goodman (TV’s Treme) and others also chat about the film in the piece, which includes a great part with John Turturro (O Brother, Where Art Thou?) saying he’s ready to start filming a sequel that tells the story of his hip-swaying super bowler De Jesus.

The movie’s secured position as a beloved piece of filmmaking history is demonstrated in the featurette “The Lebowski Fest: An Achiever’s Story,” which chronicles the invention, launch and continued rise in popularity of the annual festival that celebrates everything about The Big Lebowski. The best part is seeing some of the crazy costumes fans come up with.

The new special features on this Blu-ray are amusing but not all that substantial. One, “Mark It Dude,” counts all the “dudes,” “mans” and F-bombs (and there are a LOT). Another, “The Music of The Big Lebowski,” gives details of all the songs in the movie’s great soundtracks as each plays. The one with the most fun potential is the “Worthy Adversaries: What’s My Line Trivia” game. With this function switched on, viewers watch the movie as they play as one player or two (The Dude and Walter). At intervals, the film pauses and you’re given four choices of what the next line will be. The game could be a lot of fun, but there’s too much time between plays.

But perhaps the best part of this set is the packaging. The book holds 13 pages of Lebowskology, including a recipe for The Dude’s favorite White Russian; an interview with Jeff Dowd, the inspiration for The Dude; character bios; behind-the-scenes photos by Bridges; and a “Test Your Duderology” quiz. We scored 18 out of 22.

 

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About S. Clark

Sam Clark is the former Managing Editor/Online Editor of Video Business magazine. With 19 years experience in journalism, 12 in the home entertainment industry, Sam has been hooked on movies on since she saw E.T. then stared into the sky waiting to meet her own friendly alien. Thanks to her husband’s shared love of movies, Sam reviews Blu-ray discs in a true home theater, with a 118-inch screen, projector and cushy recliners with cup holders.