The Big Lebowski: 20th Anniversary Limited Edition

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Universal;
Comedy;
$19.98 UHD BD, $59.98 UHD BD Gift Set;
Rated ‘R’ for pervasive strong language, drug content, sexuality and brief violence.
Stars Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman, John Turturro, Sam Elliott, Peter Stormare, Tara Reid.

Throw on a bathrobe, grab some White Russians and get ready to immerse yourself in the off-kilter farce that is The Big Lebowski with a fun gift set containing the film in both glorious 1080p Blu-ray and now 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray.

Wait, you think Lebowski is too much of an insubstantial follow-up for the Coen Brothers following the accolades heaped upon them in 1996 for Fargo? Yeah, well, that’s just like, your opinion man.

What we have here, man, is a Coen classic out of ’98 loosely based on Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep. Pretty far out, right?

Although this is more like an accidental detective story, with The Dude (Jeff Bridges) drawn into a fake kidnapping scheme and doing everything he can to get back to his normal routine blazing up, hitting the bowling alley and immersing himself in the serenity of the lanes. It doesn’t help that his blowhard bestie Walter Sobchak (John Goodman) is hell bent on attacking everything in sight.

So The Dude stumbles through the plot (and life) like a Christ-figure for the modern slacker, sinning for the rest of us and not really giving a crap. Except he cares about his rug, which really ties the room together. And maybe his car, which is pretty thoroughly trashed during the movie.

Is there a deeper meaning to all this? Have the Coens crafted a parable for our two-party system, drawing a line between Walter’s aggressive style and The Dude’s laid-back diplomacy, with their meek pal Donny (Steve Buscemi) serving as the everyman caught in the middle? Is it just a bowling-is-life metaphor, a game of strikes and gutters, ups and downs?

Does it matter?

Maybe there isn’t much of a point beyond embracing the film’s infectious let-it-ride attitude, eminently quotable dialogue, soulful soundtrack and a population of characters who exist in their own little universe all kind of colliding with each other in one big stream-of-consciousness hotbox for the audience to inhale.

As for the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, the gift set comes in a miniature bowling-ball bag with a nifty miniature bowling-ball pencil holder (the holes in the ball being for the pencils, obviously). Also cool is a glasses polishing cloth styled after The Dude’s rug. The disc case itself comes in a knitted “cozy” based on The Dude’s iconic sweater, which is a nice touch if a bit impractical (the disc case is the same as the standalone 4K Blu-ray combo pack).

The 4K disc contains no bonus materials, which are all on the regular Blu-ray included with the combo pack. That standard Blu-ray is a repackaging of the same disc that was first released in 2011, which itself was a high-def version of the old 10th anniversary DVD. As such, it carries over most of the old extras, such as the tongue-in-cheek intro from a fake film preservationist, a few making-of retrospectives, a video about Jeff Bridges’ on-set photography, and a profile of the annual Lebowski Fest confab.

The Blu-ray also includes an in-movie scorecard for the various Dudeisms and curse words spouted throughout the film; pop-up information for the music as it plays during the movie; and a tame picture-in-picture mode with footage that looks like it was taken from the 10th anniversary interviews. While it would be cool for all these to play out at the same time, they’re on separate tracks so you can only pick one at a time.

You can also play the film with a trivia mode and play against a friend in shouting out the next line of dialogue during certain scenes, though the choice points don’t seem to come up as often as you’d expect.

Not that it matters, since this isn’t really a movie that ever embraced expectations, right? And that, at its core, is what makes The Big Lebowski so special. The Dude abides in any format.

‘Community,’ ‘Rescue Me,’ ‘Benji’ on September Disc Slate From Mill Creek

Complete Blu-ray series sets of “Community” and “Rescue Me,” two double features and films about animal friends are among the titles on Mill Creek Entertainment’s September disc slate.

Due Sept. 18 is Community: The Complete Series, featuring all 110 episodes from the TV series, on both Blu-ray ($99.98) and DVD ($69.98). The comedy ensemble series, starring Joel McHale, Chevy Chase, Gillian Jacobs, Alison Brie, Ken Jeong, Donald Glover, Danny Pudi, Yvette Nicole Borwn and Jim Rash, centers on a tight-knit group of friends who all meet at Greendale Community College and their hijinks.

All seven seasons are included in Rescue Me: The Complete Series coming out Sept. 11 on Blu-ray ($149.98). Whether pulling survivors from a fiery high-rise or the twisted steel of a subway collision, Tommy Gavin (Denis Leary) takes pride in leading the heroic but overwhelmed firefighters of the NYFD. Meanwhile, he’s also drifting between sorrow and anger over a separation from his wife and three kids, and the haunting memories of his fallen comrades.

The lovable mutt Benji returns Sept. 11 in the Benji: Off the Leash Blu-ray combo pack (plus DVD and digital) at $19.98. The story, told from the pooch’s point of view, tracks his early days as a pup to his current life in showbiz. Bonus features include a feature-length commentary with director Joe Camp, editor Dava Whisenant, composer Anthony Di Lorenzo and producer Margaret Loesch; a behind-the-scenes featurette; and “Benji Movie Memories,” which covers memorable scenes from five Benji movies starring three different Benjis.

Streeting Sept. 18 are two double features on Blu-ray at $14.98 each. The comedy double feature includes Age of Consent, starring James Mason and Helen Mirren, and Cactus Flower, starring Goldie Hawn, Ingrid Bergman and Walter Matthau. This is the first time either film has been available in high definition.

Also in HD for the first time are Nightwing and Shadow of the Hawk, paired in a double feature of fright. Nightwing follows the investigation of a wave of mysterious deaths on a Native American reservation in New Mexico that turn out to be caused by killer bats. Shadow of the Hawk stars Jan-Michael Vincent in a tale of an old Native American shaman who trains his skeptical grandson as a medicine man to battle enemies and black magic.

Born Free: The Complete Collection comes out on DVD Sept. 11 at $19.98. The franchise collection is based on the 1960 book about raising an orphaned lion cub Elsa and then releasing her back into the wild. The book changed the world’s perception of wild animals. The DVD collection includes the 1966 original film, the 1972 sequel, the 1974 TV series and the 1996 TV movie.

Due Sept. 11 is the Western Buffalo Girls on DVD (plus digital) at $14.98. The film, starring Anjelica Huston, Melanie Griffith and Sam Elliott, celebrates the escapades of tough-talking Calamity Jane Canary. It co-stars Gabriel Byrne, Reba McEntire and Peter Coyote.

The miniseries Family Pictures comes out Sept. 11 on DVD (plus digital) at $14.98. The drama, starring Anjelica Huston, Sam Neill and Kyra Sedgwick, is based on Sue Miller’s best-selling novel. It follows a daughter who comes home to her divorced parents and tells the story of her family, including her younger autistic brother.

Coming Sept. 11 on DVD (plus digital) at $14.98 is Hollywood’s Best and Brightest, featuring more than 12 hours of Hollywood star biographies. Featured legends are Warren Beatty, Sean Connery, Robert De Niro, Clint Eastwood, Mel Gibson, Jack Nicholson, Al Pacino, Robert Redford, Burt Reynolds, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, John Travolta, Dick Van Dyke, Robert Wagner, Michael York, Julie Andrews, Kim Basinger, Candice Bergen, Catherine Deneuve, Faye Dunaway, Jane Fonda, Jodie Foster, Goldie Hawn, Lauren Hutton, Angela Lansbury, Shirley MacLaine, Ann-Margret, Barbra Streisand, Kathleen Turner and Raquel Welch.