The Big Lebowski at Malco Paradiso 

"Sometimes there's a man, well, he's the man for his time and place. He fits right in there, and that's The Dude." — The Big Lebowski.

The Big Lebowski was not the movie for its time or place. This here story I'm about to unfold took place in 1998 — just about the time American movie fans were having a tragic love affair with Titanic. I only mention it because The Big Lebowski sank at the box office.

Coen Brothers associate Bill Robertson said it best in a 2008 interview with Rolling Stone. By following a perfectly austere, Academy Award-winner like Fargo with a gaudy bauble like Lebowski, the brothers were like, "opera stars who sang a perfect aria – and farted as they walked offstage." Within five years of its underwhelming release, the Coen's marriage of gritty L.A. noir (Raymond Chandler-style) and wordy screwball comedy (Preston Sturges-style) had become a generational touchstone. In 1998, it baffled audiences and split critics down the middle. TV critic Gene Siskel described The Big Lebowski as a "big disappointment."

click to enlarge werecbox_bigl.jpg

As Malco prepares for a 20th anniversary screening of this late-blooming landmark, we looked back into the movie archive to see what the Flyer thought about this once-divisive, now-beloved comedy about a man and his area rug. According to reviewer Susan Ellis, "The Big Lebowski possesses none of the dark undertones that flavored [the Coens'] last big hit, Fargo. Nor does it — despite all of its sundry characters and brief plot detours (such as the dream sequences) — try to do too much, as in The Hudsucker Proxy. Rather, this film harks back to Raising Arizona, another happily goofy kidnap caper ... Laugh out loud funny."

It was a good review. And thorough. And if it makes you want to see Dude, Donny, Maude, Walter, Jesus, Bunny, The Stranger, and a whole bunch of nihilists, the Malco Paradiso theater participates in TCM's 20th Anniversary screening of The Big Lebowski Wednesday, August 8th.

Keep the Flyer Free!

Always independent, always free (never a paywall),
the Memphis Flyer is your source for the best in local news and information.

Now we want to expand and enhance our work.
That's why we're asking you to join us as a Frequent Flyer member.

You'll get membership perks (find out more about those here) and help us continue to deliver the independent journalism you've come to expect.



Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment



The Latest

News Blog

Virus Positive Rate Continues to Slide

From My Seat

A New "Feel" for Sports

Film/TV/Etc. Blog

Music Video Week: Sunweight

News Blog

Positive Rate Slides Again After Surge

Film/TV/Etc. Blog

Music Video Week: Julien Baker

News Blog

Positivity Rate 7 Percent On 1,633 Tests

Film/TV/Etc. Blog

Music Video Week: Junior

Intermission Impossible

Revised Orpheum Broadway Schedule Announced


More by Chris Davis

© 1996-2020

Contemporary Media
65 Union, 2nd Floor | Memphis, TN 38103
Visit our other sites: Memphis Magazine | Memphis Parent | Inside Memphis Business
Powered by Foundation