The Big Lebowski

Movie review by
Heather Boerner, Common Sense Media
The Big Lebowski Movie Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Quirky '90s comedy has drugs, sex, cursing, and violence.
  • R
  • 1998
  • 108 minutes

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 16 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 24 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

While the movie is on one level a dark comedy about extortion and mistaken identity, the movie, now considered a classic, is open to many interpretations by its champions, including the idea that The Dude is a kind of Zen master who "abides" through thick and thin. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

The movie has taken on a life of its own, particularly in how it's interpreted by those who love it. Some say that Donnie is actually just a figment of Walter's imagination, and the hot-tempered military-minded Walter is believed to be modeled after the man who wrote the screenplays to Apocalypse Now and Red Dawn. While essentially an unemployed slacker, The Dude is viewed by some as a kind of Zen master who "abides"; he also makes reference to a past in which he protested the Vietnam War, and was active in an earlier draft of the "Port Huron Statement," viewed as one of the central documents that spearheaded the student activism of the 1960s. 

Violence

Character bites off the ear of another character. The Dude gets beaten up by thugs, smacked in the head with a coffee cup by the Malibu chief of police, and attacked by marmot-wielding nihilists while he's in his tub. Walter smashes a Corvette with a tire iron; the owner retaliates by smashing up The Dude's car. Cut-off little toe wrapped in gauze. In a classic scene, Walter pulls a gun on a bowling rival who he says crossed the foul line while bowling a frame. 

Sex

Bunny, the trophy wife of the other Lebowski, is a pornographic film actress described by Lebwoski's daughter Maude as a nymphomaniac. When The Dude visits Maude, she shows him a scene of one of Bunny's movies, in which a naked woman is shown on the verge of having sex with the cable repairman. Bunny offers to perform oral sex on The Dude for $1000. Topless women shown tossed into the air from a giant blanket at a party on the beach. In a dream sequence, The Dude floats down a bowling alley under the spread legs of dozens of short-skirted women standing over him. The Dude makes a masturbation joke. 

Language

"F--k" is constantly used by all of the characters. Walter calls Saddam Hussein a "camel f---er," and The Dude describes one of his attackers as a "Chinaman." Also: "a--hole," "s--thead," "c--k," "pr--k," "ass," "bitch," "goddamn." 

Consumerism

Ralph's Supermarket in opening scene. Miller Lite bottles in bowling alley bar. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The Dude often smokes marijuana, and is known for drinking White Russians. In one scene, he's shown drinking beer and smoking marijuana, resulting in an accident. Cigarette smoking. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Big Lebowski is the classic 1998 Coen Brothers comedy in which Jeff Bridges plays a laid-back slacker who becomes embroiled in a kidnapping and extortion scheme. There's constant profanity throughout the movie, and "f--k" is the word of choice of The Dude and his friends. Saddam Hussein is referred to as a "camel f---er," and The Dude refers to one of the men who attacked him as a "Chinaman." There's some violence, including The Dude getting beaten up and knocked out by thugs, attacked with a marmot by nihilists, and knocked over by a strike in the head with a coffee cub by the Malibu chief of police. The Dude's friend Walter bites off the ear of one of the nihilists, and vandalizes a Corvette with a tire iron. The Dude often smokes pot, and is known for drinking White Russians. In one scene, The Dude smokes a joint and drinks a beer while driving, resulting in a crash. The trophy wife of the "other" Lebowski is a pornographic film actress shown in a scene in one of her movies showing female nudity. The actress offers to perform oral sex on The Dude for $1000. The movie, characters, and story have taken on a life of their own among its rabid fan base, and families can talk about the ways in which the movie, like many of the Coen Brothers movies, is a satire of the culture and people of a particular region of America (in this case, Southern California), and also how The Dude is viewed as a kind of Zen master who "abides" through life's ups and downs. 

 

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byREDSOX101 July 21, 2009

I'm a lebowski, your a lebowski

This is a great movie. The coen brothers are the best sibling directors ever. Jeff Bridges does a great job.

You dont mess with jesus.
Adult Written byschizoidnightmares May 28, 2020

Disjointed, but with exceptional performances and writing

The Big Lebowski contains memorable and exceptional performances from its cast (especially Jeff Bridges and John Goodman), with excellent self-aware dialogue to... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byTHE DUDE ABIDES April 9, 2020

The Big Lebowski

The big Lebowski has a lot of swearing and sexual stuff but I say it is ok for a mature teen
Teen, 15 years old Written byBooden123 October 2, 2019

This movie is just, like, amazing man

Ok, so this movie is certainly very graphic. It's got loads of profanity, a good amount of full-frontal female nudity, and one of the characters dies of a... Continue reading

What's the story?

All the Dude (Jeff Bridges) wants is some more milk for his White Russians. Instead, he comes home from an all-night grocery store to an ambush by some thugs who mistake the Dude for Jeffrey Lebowski, a philanthropist with a wife who's racking up debts all over town. The guys shove his head in a toilet, urinate on his rug, and leave the place with a threat. From there on, the Dude just wants to replace his rug, which "tied the whole place together." Following the Dude, THE BIG LEBOWSKI takes the viewer on a crazy ride. All along, the Dude is accompanied by his blustering Vietnam vet bowling buddy Walter (John Goodman), who gets him in even worse trouble. Will the Dude be able to recover a lost $1 million ransom? Will Maude carry his baby? And what ever happened to the porn actress-turned-trophy wife-turned-supposed kidnapping victim? The Dude will show you.

Is it any good?

Nymphomania, pot, White Russians, and the search for a rug to tie his living room together set the stage for The Big Lebowski, a wild ride through Los Angeles' underbelly. Like other Coen brothers' movies, the story is too crazy to be believed -- and so well done you can't stop watching it.

The brilliance of The Big Lebowski isn't so much in the story -- though it's got plenty of twists and turns -- but the characters and actors. Along with the two main players, there's the masterfully creepy and hilarious Jesus (John Turturro), the Oscar-winning and brilliant Phillip Seymour Hoffman, and Steve Buscemi, who uses his doe eyes to great effect here. Having sung the films praises, it's also important to say that this is NOT a movie for kids.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the Dude's lifestyle. Is that something you aspire to? How would you handle a situation of mistaken identity? Would you listen to your friends the way the Dude listens to Walter?

  • The Big Lebwoski is an example of a movie that has taken on a life of its own in terms of how the story and characters are interpreted by its most ardent fans. How does this phenomenon reflect the idea that art and its appreciation is a subjective experience? Can you think of other movies or television shows that inspire debate about what their meaning? 

  • Why do fans consider this movie to be a classic? Does the humor still work today? Why or why not?

Movie details

For kids who love to laugh

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