The master of ceremonies (Sam Elliott) for this irreverent and outrageous comedy by Joel and Ethan Coen has found an antihero for the 90s whose mantra is "take it easy." The Dude (Jeff Bridges) lives in a rundown bungalow in Venice, California, smokes pot, and is unemployed. His ability to live in the present moment without any concern for the future arouses the ire of other achievement-oriented Californians. A Pasadena millionaire (David Huddleston) throws some work his way but really thinks he is a bum. Three German nihilists want to put some hurt on the Dude; an avant garde feminist painter (Julianne Moore) has her own designs on him; and an angry porno publisher (Ben Gazzara) is out to get him. Luckily, the Dude has some close friends who provide an anchor for his turbulent life. They hang out at the local bowling alley — Walter (John Goodman), a fast-talking, short-tempered Vietnam veteran; and Donny (Steve Buscemi), an ex-surfer.

As a follow-up to Fargo, The Big Lebowski is an over-the-top comedy filled with satiric swipes at the Raymond Chandler private eye movie genre. Once the Dude gets involved in a kidnapping case, his life swirls in chaos. But he is unperturbed by it all. Like a good Taoist, the Dude realizes that freedom is understanding we are not in control and never will be. By taking it easy, the Dude abides and becomes a spiritual teacher of crazy wisdom.