(DailyDig.com) – Twenty-five long years ago, “The Big Lebowski” was met with mixed reviews. It was a financial failure, earning only $18 million at the box office. Viewers agreed, giving the film on CinemaScore a B. It wasn’t as well received as the Coens’ last film, “Fargo”, which prompted some critics to say they had lost their touch.
A cult following emerged, however, because of the film’s status as an endlessly quotable black comedy with a remarkable cast of the directors’ signature oddballs.
In “The Big Lebowski,” Jeff Bridges’ slacker character, the Dude, is caught up in a series of comedic mishaps after being misidentified as a guy who owes money to Jackie Treehorn (Ben Gazzara).
Jeff Bridges predicted that the film would be successful at the box office. He was taken aback by the lack of attention it received.
At the conclusion of the independent film wave, “The Big Lebowski” established itself as a standout among the decade’s eccentric, pithy crime shows with a detective story that subverted all the conventions of L.A. crime fiction. When it came to heroes, Bridges was The Dude, a very unusual hero. As opposed to the usual coolness shown as heroes perform their duties, this time around they seem purposely silly.
While reading the screenplay, Bridges was taken aback by how closely he connected with the protagonist. He thought it was a fantastic screenplay and unlike anything he had ever worked on before. He felt like the brothers must have been keeping tabs on him back when he was in high school.
The finished product had a charming energy all its own, and it eventually won over audiences via midnight showings, home video, and cable. Many critics revised their initial assessments, including Roger Ebert, who upped his original evaluation to a full four stars.
The picture has consistently brought in money for the production company. Universal claims that in only the previous five years, “The Big Lebowski” has earned more money through viewing at home than it did from its initial domestic release.
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