Sometimes there’s a movie, a simple, lackluster movie, more about a man and an attitude, than a plot. Not everyone sees its greatness, in fact, it didn’t do very well at the box office and it received some pretty average reviews. But the fans have held it up, even made a convention celebrating its main character and all his dudeness. Sometimes there’s a movie that becomes a perfect personification of everything within that main character. And we call this movie, The Big Lebowski.
The character is The Dude (Jeff Bridges), or Jeff Lebowski, but that’s just the name his parents gave him that he didn’t make much use of. Like I said, the plot is not that important, but feels pushed at us with all its urgent agendas. A few skeezy mob men just busted into The Dude’s apartment and pissed on his rug because they got him confused with another Lebowski, who is a millionaire. Problem is, that rug really tied the room together, so following the advice of his bowling team, Walter and Donny (John Goodman and Steve Buscemi), The Dude seeks retribution from the millionaire Lebowski to replace it. But things get complicated when the millionaire Lebowski’s wife suddenly goes missing. With the help of his bowling team, The Dude helps look for the missing wife, hooks up with Lebowski’s daughter and has some amazing acid flashback bowling dreams.
The dude is the role Jeff Bridges was born to play and he is now most identifiable with. When Bridges won an Oscar in 2010, 12 years after The Big Lebowski, fans cheered for The Dude and some were disappointed that his speech did not include, “The Dude abides.” The Dude is a self described pacifist who enjoys listening to whale songs in a bubble bath, smoking weed, bowling and sipping white Russians all day. To be such a likeable, lazy bum is a wonderful dream. The dude is the most laid back person you could ever meet, clad in bermuda shorts, thrift store ponchos or an old robe. If you let him sit in an armchair, or bubble bath long enough, I think he could just melt into it and become one. If it were not for Walter, who is much more aggressive Vietnam vet and converted Jew, he may not have even tried to get a replacement rug.
The Big Lebowski contains one of the best dream scenes ever. After The Dude’s bubble bath is so rudely interrupted, he drifts off into a world of majestic bowling, introduced like it’s a short film, complete with Saddam Hussein as the shoe caddy. He dances down an infinite staircase to chorus girls in giant bowling pin headdresses. After helping the leader of the girls bowl, he is sent down the lane himself, on his back with a view that puts a big smile on his face. Of course, he gets a strike.
During Oscar season, this film just isn’t the kind that drew much attention. I understand that, it wasn’t exactly striving for Best Picture status. However, the way fans have rallied around this film, held it up and even made conventions out of it, lifts it into a different realm of greatness. Even Roger Ebert has included this film in his Great Movies collection.
The Big Lebowski is an interesting film that may not appeal to a mass audience. The amount of casual cursing is extremely high here, take that as you will. The flimsy plot is not that important, and it may irritate some viewers to know that. This is a movie all about attitude and it is presented perfectly though Bridges’ character and the style of the film, written and directed perfectly by the Coen brothers. For the ultimate Dude-like experience with the film, wear the most comfy, mismatched, secondhand clothes you can find, pour some white Russians and go bowling just before watching The Big Lebowski.
“I could be just sitting at home with pee stains on my rug.”
A great performance by Bridges for sure. I love that character, even if I don’t get behind this movie 100%.
I understand what you mean, Ian. The first time I saw this, I loved Bridges, but I kept thinking, “What the hell did I just watch?” Thankfully, I was more intrigued than deterred.
It literally took me around a dozen viewings before the plot started to make any discernible sense. Still one of my favorites, though. Even named our dog Lebowski after it.
What a lucky dog! Yeah, there’s usually a point in the film where I just don’t care about the plot anymore, but still love everything going on. That’s just what makes it great.
It’s rare when a film becomes watchable for reasons other than the plot and that makes it really special.
Pingback: Top 10 Comedy Films « Radu presents: The Movie-Photo Blog