The Big Lebowski is a 1998 crime comedy film written, produced, and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen. It stars Jeff Bridges as Jeffrey “The Dude” Lebowski, a Los Angeles slacker and avid bowler. He is assaulted as a result of mistaken identity, after which The Dude learns that a millionaire (also named Jeffrey Lebowski) was the intended victim. The millionaire Lebowski’s trophy wife is kidnapped, and he commissions The Dude to deliver the ransom to secure her release; the plan goes awry when the Dude’s friend Walter Sobchak (John Goodman) schemes to keep the ransom money. Julianne Moore, Steve Buscemi, David Huddleston, and John Turturro also appear, in supporting roles.
The film is loosely inspired by the work of Raymond Chandler. Joel Coen stated, “We wanted to do a Chandler kind of story – how it moves episodically, and deals with the characters trying to unravel a mystery, as well as having a hopelessly complex plot that’s ultimately unimportant.” The original score was composed by Carter Burwell, a longtime collaborator of the Coen brothers.
The Big Lebowski was a disappointment at the U.S. box office and received mixed reviews at the time of its release. Over time, reviews have become largely positive, and the film has become a cult favorite, noted for its eccentric characters, comedic dream sequences, idiosyncratic dialogue, and eclectic soundtrack. In 2014, the film was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress, being deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”. A spin-off based on John Turturro’s character, titled The Jesus Rolls, is scheduled for a 2020 release, with Turturro also acting as writer and director.