Prologue by Leslie Watkins:
The Dude: “All the dude ever wanted was his rug back. It really tied the room together.”
I was on the phone with my mom, explaining that I had just figured out that Beau Bridges was Jeff Bridges‘s brother after seeing Beau on an episode of “Brothers and Sisters.” Her response (after being completely appalled) was, “You just love Jeff Bridges because of that hair movie he did.” Damn straight. Well… the hair movie and also Stick It (do yourself a favor and watch it [Editor's note: I don't necessarily endorse this line of thought]).
Jeff Bridges as the Dude is what I imagine/hope he is like in real life, although I have heard that he actually prefers Black Russians instead of the “Caucasians” he drinks in the movie. Bowling with Bridges will always be a fantasy of mine, as well as the name of a band that I hope to start in the near future.
I first saw The Big Lebowski in 8th grade after my friend Pat had dressed up as The Dude for Halloween, and this movie signifies the kind of filmmaking that I love. In re-watching it, I thought about how the specificity of each character’s personality and their dialogue made this movie what it is. The fact that the Dude loves his rug, he drinks white Russians, he loves bowling and In-N-Out burger– that makes The Dude The Dude. His wonderfully complicated relationship with Walter (John Goodman), where he constantly says “I love you Walter, but shut the f*ck up,” explores the limits to which he can be pushed, and yet never actually hit rock bottom. John Turturro as Jesus, the terrifyingly good bowler/pedophile and Phillip Seymour Hoffman as Brandt, the loyal slave to the Big Lebowski, are honorable mentions.
The movie is almost modeled after the hero in that it’s confused and has no real direction but is just affected by outside sources. I love the fact that The Dude continually refers to the case as a tough one that has “a lot of ins and outs, a lot of ups and downs.” He even expands upon that by saying that he “keeps himself on a strict drug regiment in order to deal with it.” I feel like we as the viewer might need to do the same. The Coen brothers are masters of their craft, creating ridiculous circumstances, outlandish yet believable characters, and hilarious dialogue. In the end, this movie teaches us to do what the dude does and just abide.
There is no excuse that my big sister hasn’t seen this movie. NO EXCUSE. Much like Beau Bridges, she is the older sibling respected by the community and will follow in his footsteps of disappearing if she doesn’t remedy this soon.
[Editor's note: Seriously, my sister is notorious for her love of Jeff Bridges. In fact, here's a mediocre picture of her receiving a portrait of The Dude for her 21st birthday:
For those of you who don’t know my sister and can’t tell by her face, this was probably one of the greatest moments of her life. And yes, I love her even if I’m pretty sure she just threatened to kill me.]
I’ve been excited about seeing The Big Lebowski for a while. Though I haven’t seen every Coen Brothers movie, I’m a big fan of the movies I’ve managed to watch (Fargo, especially). With the way my sister and Kevin have talked about this movie, you could say it was “highly anticipated” and that would still be an understatement. Seriously, Check out Kevin’s set-up of the DVD cover:
Of all the silly things in this movie, the craziest has to be the notion that Tara Reid is worth $1 million. This is just not the case. Have you seen her lately? That would have been a terrible investment for Mr. Lebowski, and The Dude should have had the foresight to see that this was all a sham after running into her painting her toenails. But that would make for a crappy movie, now wouldn’t it?
What is not crazy about this movie? The Dude wearing Jelly shoes. They are comfortable as hell and my six-year-old self would have approved. He also probably enjoyed the smell—they make your feet sweat like crazy and by the time I started to go through puberty, my parents made me stop wearing them. Of course, the Jellies I wore were infused with glitter but I can understand if he didn’t want to go there.
I got a bit distracted while watching The Big Lebowski because of all of the recognizable faces and my need to immediately IMDB (it’s a verb now, like Google) to figure out where I had seen them before. These faces include:
- Jacob from Lost
- One of Madonna’s boyfriends (and Lourdes’s dad)
- Remus Lupin from Harry Potter
- The wood chipper guy from Fargo (yeah, I know, he’s been in a lot of things)
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed John Goodman’s performance. I have only seen him in his SNL Linda Tripp sketch, Coyote Ugly (I know), The Flinestones (I KNOW), and, more recently, The Artist. I didn’t know what to expect from him in a larger (and speaking) role, but Walter Sobchak is incredible. I get just as angry and competitive about bowling. I jump to conclusions. I reference Vietnam every chance I get. I refuse to roll on the Shabbos. I carry around a small dog. We’re basically the same person.
And yes, I was very sad when Donny died. Nihilists are quite scary. I’m on record as wanting to be cremated and dumped in the ocean (seriously), so I appreciated their tribute to him (even if most of his ashes ended up on The Dude).
I’m going to get murdered for this, but here goes…
The problem with a cult classic like The Big Lebowski is that the people who love the movie REALLY love the movie. Watching this movie reminds me of how I felt when watching Princess Bride. For years and years, the movie had been hyped up and quoted non-stop. When I finally watched it, I felt nothing. I still don’t get that movie.
I enjoyed The Big Lebowski much, much more than Princess Bride, but I still felt a little disappointed when the movie ended. I suspect that it needs multiple viewings to achieve the feeling that Kevin and Leslie have towards it and I’m willing to give the movie that chance. But I was a little sad that I wasn’t blown away. My expectations were way, way too high. My bad.
(Please don’t kill me.)
You do have to admit, though, that rug did really tie the room together.
Face palm moment:
The most neglected genre in my viewing history happens to be the Western. Therefore, Sam Elliott is only known for having a small cameo in Up in the Air and being that one beef guy. To my knowledge he’s never done anything else of note.
“Gutterballs,” the infamous dream sequence, would have to be my favorite part, and also explains some of the seriously awful (copycat, as it turns out) dance moves that I’ve seen throughout the years. I also happen to really love Kenny Rogers, so the song for the sequence is a huge plus. I maintain that the Vertigo dream sequence is the best in any movie ever, but I’ll be the first to admit to you that I’m biased. Regardless, it’s brilliant.
The introduction of Jesus Quintana to a weird Spanish version of Hotel California was pretty swell too.
The “I missed that in pop culture trivia” moment:
I’ve heard several references to the Vietnam quotes, as well as several quotes from the bowling scenes (“you mark that frame an eight and you’re entering a world of pain”).
Also, honestly, thought Jesus Quintana was from Kingpin:
The Dude: Jesus, man, can you change the station?
Cab Driver: F*ck you man! You don’t like my f*cking music, get your own f*cking cab!
The Dude: I’ve had a…
Cab Driver: I pull over and kick your as* out, man!
The Dude: – had a rough night, and I hate the f*cking Eagles, man.
Regrettable tardiness scale (out of 10): I’ll definitely give it a ten out of ten, and I plan to watch a few more times. Also, is Logjammin’ available on DVD? Just curious.
- Happy Birthday Jeff Bridges: ‘The Big Lebowski’ Star Turns 62 (huffingtonpost.com)
- Top 5 Budgeting Practices of The Big Lebowski (indueseason.net)
- Let’s Go Bowling: The Weird, Wonderful World of Lebowski Fest (mrmovietimes.com)