I would probably have enjoyed this film more if it wasn’t considered a “classic.” I’ve got a real problem with films considered classics because nine times out of ten, I don’t get it. Last year I watched Easy Rider. This is in a lot of top 50, sometimes top 10, greatest films lists but I watched it utterly bored and confused. This probably means I’m not intelligent enough to get Easy Rider and its subtle comments on “drug taking, corporate America, riding a bike no-handed and not getting a hair cut” but sometimes it feels like people call a film a classic when they clearly haven’t understood it but believe it probably is a classic.
I still think this will be the case with “Tree of Life” when I get round to seeing it.
So I sat and watched The Big Lebowski last week thinking it would be brilliant and would instantly enter my top ten films list. This is mainly because of Jeff Bridges cult character, The Dude. I had heard so much about this character, how cool he was, how people want to be like him and even how he is one of the greatest film characters of all time. I just didn’t get it. He’s good. He is very cool in places (he really badly makes me want to drink a White Russian) but he isn’t even close to the best character in the film. That has to go to John Goodman’s Walter, a Vietnam veteran who is far too violent and unhinged but because of this is hilarious. The moment when he smashes up the sports car, thinking it belongs to a bratty 14 year old had me in stitches, as did the way he scattered some ashes towards the end of the film. Just a brilliant character. He alone doesn’t make the film a classic though.
That’s the main problem with my enjoyment of the film. I expected it to be brilliant because so many people love the film. Instead I got a film that wasn’t as funny as I expected, wasn’t as clever as I expected and had a main character who had become a cult figure but wasn’t close to as cool as I expected. I actually think I’d have enjoyed the film more if I’d gone in not knowing anything about it.
It was only funny in places and that was when Walter was on screen (especially with Steve Buscemi) and although the story was good, it wasn’t as clever as it was trying to be.
I didn’t hate it though. It was a decent film with good performances. It just didn’t blow me away like I expected. You see a film starring Jeff Bridges (amazing in Crazy Heart and True Grit), Steve Buscemi, (brilliant in Reservoir Dogs and Con Air) and directors the Coen Brothers (True Grit was genius) and you expect something outstanding and that was what I was promised. I also think that forces people’s opinion. It’s very easy to see that group of people in a film and decide early on that you are going to like this film and that if you come out the other end having not really enjoyed it, you probably should have, so you tell people you did anyway. The curse of the “classic.”
I actually wonder how many people who say they enjoyed Easy Rider, Get Carter, There will be Blood and Taxi Driver (to name my most recently seen, overrated films) actually think they are classics, as opposed to just saying they are because they think they should.
Overall, this review makes it seem like I hated The Big Lebowski. I didn’t, I thought it was quite good. Just not as good as I was led to believe…
(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)