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Since the advent of DVD, the world of film can be divided into three territories: the out-of-print wasteland (which includes a few gems and a lot of of waste), the middle tier of casually-packaged cash-ins, and the select few who qualify for the special edition treatment. (We’re looking at you, Criterion.)

Unlikely as it may seem, The Big Lebowski is moving up a notch, getting the 10th Anniversary treatment from Universal, in packaging that includes four featurettes, a photo book, and a full-size screw-top bowling ball to keep it all together.

The movie’s come a long way from barely breaking even on release, to say nothing of its slightly addled NYT review, but Lebowski deserves its cult following. It’s not the Coen’s best—or even their funniest—but coming from filmmakers often pegged as cold, it’s hard to think of a more genial movie. It’s no wonder Lebowskifests have caught on; the movie’s a party by itself.

Most importantly, it has the same feeling of pop culture detritus that fills up midnight screenings from Manhattan to Wichita. Like Rocky Horror Picture Show or Rock ‘N’ Roll High School, it’s a hard to imagine how it got made. (You can thank Fargo for that.) Between the affably passive characters, shambling but intricate plot, non sequitur dream sequences, and glut of throwaway characters and gags, Lebowski breaks just about every rule in the screenwriting handbook without ever being pretentious or less than funny.

Sometimes, a cult movie is just a hit in slow-motion.

—R.B.

CONTRIBUTORS

  • Russell Brandom