Colourful scenery and colourful characters, with a wonderfully wry and highly quotable script. The warped imagination of this film bowls me over.
The Coen Brothers' taste for surreality can sometimes detract from their stories for me, which made me wary of this film on first viewing, but it has grown on me hugely. The Brothers can be hit or miss, and this is a hit.
The sense of humour is reminiscent of Pulp Fiction, with its bumbling gangsters and irreverent dialogue. The dysfunctional buddy couple at the core of the film, The Dude and Walter as played by Jeff Bridges and John Goodman, spark off each other wonderfully. John Goodman's misguidedly aggressive character, apparently his own favourite performance, is oddly familiar - I knew a guy like that.
Having raved about their film, I should say that I watched an interview with the Coen Brothers on the DVD extras (actually, VHS extras) and they are incredibly boring.
Comedy Central produced a wonderful example of preposterous TV censorship when they aired this film, dubbing Walter's dialogue in the scene where he is destroying the Corvette with a crowbar. Instead of repeating "This is what happens when you fuck a stranger in the ass" he says "This is what happens when you find a stranger in the Alps" and then, even more bizarrely "This is what happens when you feed a plover scrambled eggs". See it for yourself.
The Dude's car is a 4-door 1973 Ford Gran Torino. Two vehicles were used in filming: one was destroyed during the filming, the other was destroyed in Season 8 of The X-Files in an episode called "Salvage".