The Big Lebowski is a 1998 comedy film written and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen. Jeff Bridges stars as Jeff Lebowski, an unemployed Los Angeles slacker and avid bowler, who is referred to (and also refers to himself) as "The Dude". After a case of mistaken identity, The Dude is introduced to a millionaire also named Jeffrey Lebowski. When the millionaire Lebowski's trophy wife is later kidnapped, 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 full ransom. Steve Buscemi, Philip Seymour Hoffman, David Huddleston, Julianne Moore, Tara Reid, and John Turturro star in the film, which is narrated by a cowboy known only as "Stranger," played by Sam Elliott. The film is loosely based on Raymond Chandler's novel, The Big Sleep. 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. Reviews have trended towards the positive over time, and the film has become a cult favorite, noted for its idiosyncratic characters, dream sequences, unconventional dialogue, and eclectic soundtrack.
Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski returns home only to be roughed up by two thugs claiming to be collecting money that Lebowski's wife owes a man named Jackie Treehorn. After beating him and urinating on his rug, they realize they are looking for a different person with the same name, and they leave. At the instigation of his friend and bowling teammate Walter Sobchak (Goodman), The Dude decides to seek compensation for the rug from the other Jeffrey Lebowski. The next day, the titular "Big" Lebowski, a wheelchair-bound millionaire, refuses The Dude's request. The Dude meets Bunny Lebowski (Reid), the Big Lebowski's nymphomaniac trophy wife, while leaving the premises with a rug taken from the mansion. Days later, the Big Lebowski contacts The Dude, revealing that Bunny has been kidnapped. He asks The Dude to act as a courier for the million-dollar ransom because The Dude will be able to confirm whether or not the kidnappers were the same thugs. Later, a different set of thugs enter The Dude's apartment, knock him unconscious, and steal his new rug. When Bunny's kidnappers call to arrange the ransom exchange, Walter tries to convince The Dude to keep the money and give the kidnappers a "ringer" suitcase filled with dirty underwear. The kidnappers escape with the ringer, and The Dude and Walter are left with the million-dollar ransom. Later that night, The Dude's car is stolen, along with the briefcase filled with money. The Dude receives a message from the Big Lebowski's daughter, Maude, who admits to hiring the criminals who knocked him unconscious. The Dude visits her at her art studio, and she reveals that Bunny is a porn starlet working for Jackie Treehorn. She agrees with The Dude's suspicion that Bunny kidnapped herself and asks The Dude to recover the ransom, as it was illegally withdrawn by her father. The Big Lebowski angrily confronts The Dude over his failure to hand over the money, and hands The Dude an envelope sent to him by the kidnappers which contains a severed toe, presumably Bunny's. The Dude later receives a message that his car has been found. Mid-message, three German nihilists invade the Dude's apartment, identifying themselves as the kidnappers. They interrogate and threaten him for the ransom money. The Dude returns to Maude's studio, where she identifies the German nihilists as Bunny's friends. The Dude picks up his car from the police, and he and Walter track down the supposed thief, a teenager named Larry Sellers. Their confrontation with Larry is unsuccessful, and the Dude and Walter leave without getting any money or information. Jackie Treehorn's thugs return to The Dude's apartment to bring him to Treehorn's beach house in Malibu. Treehorn inquires about the whereabouts of Bunny, and the money, offering him a cut of any funds recovered. Treehorn then drugs The Dude's drink and The Dude passes out. After a surreal dream sequence blending the themes of bowling, the Persian Gulf War, Maude's "vaginal" art, and the nihilists, The Dude wakes up in a police car and is then placed in front of the police chief of Malibu. The police chief physically assaults The Dude and warns him not to return to Malibu. After a cab ride home, The Dude is greeted by Maude Lebowski, who seduces him. During post-coital conversation with Maude, The Dude learns that she hopes to conceive a child with him but wants him to have no hand in the child's upbringing. He also finds out that, despite appearances, her father has no money of his own. Maude's late mother was the rich one, and she left her money exclusively to the family charity. In a flash, The Dude unravels the whole scheme: when the Big Lebowski heard that Bunny was kidnapped, he used it as a pretense for an embezzlement scheme, in which he withdrew the ransom money from the family charity. He kept it for himself, gave an empty briefcase to The Dude (who would be the fall guy on whom he pinned the theft), and was content to let the kidnappers kill Bunny. Meanwhile, it is now clear that the kidnapping was itself a ruse: while Bunny took an unannounced trip, the nihilists (her friends) alleged a kidnapping in order to get money from her husband. The Dude and Walter arrive at the Big Lebowski residence, finding Bunny back at home from her trip. They confront the Big Lebowski with their version of the events. The affair apparently over, The Dude and his bowling teammates are once again confronted by the nihilists, who have set the Dude's car on fire. They once again demand the million dollars. After telling the nihilists what they knew, the nihilists demand all the money in their pockets. Walter responds by biting one nihilist's ear off, throwing a bowling ball at another's ribs, and knocking the final nihilist unconscious with their portable radio. However, in the aftermath, Donny has a heart attack and dies. Walter and The Dude go to a cliff overlooking a beach to scatter Donny's ashes. After an informal eulogy which Walter turns into a tribute to the Vietnam War and accidentally covers The Dude with Donny's ashes, Walter suggests, "Fuck it, Dude. Let's go bowling." The movie ends with closing comments from "The Stranger" at the bar of the bowling alley, who hints that Maude may be pregnant with a "little Lebowski."