ITV4: Sunday 11 October, 12am
Affable old hippie Jeff Bridges hangs out at the local 10-pin bowling alley with his bickering buddies, meekly mild Steve Buscemi and bitter blow hard John Goodman, a resentful Vietnam veteran. The bewildered Bridges – permanently blitzed on highballs, beer and dope – is hired as a ransom courier by philanthropic millionaire David Huddleston,whose young wife has been kidnapped.
Thanks to Goodman’s interference, Bridges manages to lose the money. He doesn’t find the wife either.The Coen brothers’ take on post-war private eye tales is typically askew, a supremely cinematic world inhabited by deadbeats and deviants. Comedy doesn’t come more deadpan than this. There aren’t gags as such, just plausibly weird characters bumbling through strange situations.
The Big Sleep-like plot is complex yet the impression given is that nothing much is going on; imagine a slacker Seinfeldsitcom scripted by a hungover Raymond Chandler and you’re in the vicinity. Bridges brilliantly inhabits his oddly endearing character,an ex-Metallica roadie and long-ago student activist – one of the Seattle Seven, he claims, who were, of course, “me… and six other guys.”
There are also fine comic turns by Sam Elliott, who shambolically introduces the story, and John Turturro, dressed to kill as an insanely flamboyant bowler. So what, ultimately, is the point of this meandering dead-end yarn? Hey, it’s a screwy old world – why waste time worrying about it. After all, The Dude abides.