Want to share some expert and extensive film reviews for those of you who already love this movie. I also am going to convince you all to see it soon and often. Enjoy with good friends and good herb!! Subscribe now so we can learn and laugh LOTS!!
Welcome to Dr. Tom’s analysis of his current favorite movie.
I have to write a tribute to my all time favorite movie – “The Big Lebowski.” Have watched it many times and continue to find more meaning and relevance in it. Some of my students have even told me I remind them of the Dude (Jeff Bridges). I do believe his character has a lot to teach us about a zen approach to life. So I want to share some quotes and images from the movie — while adding my own commentary.
Here is the basic plot and premise: The Dude is extremely laid back, very possibly a casualty of the California counterculture of the 60’s and early 70’s who seems perfectly content to take each day as it comes. While returning to his modest rental home one night, he finds two thuggish men waiting for him, one who soon acquaints The Dude’s head with the inside of The Dude’s toilet, while the other decides to despoil The Dude’s living room rug in the manner of a unhousebroken dog. This meeting sets into motion a complicated series of events including kidnapping which evolves into a mystery, a ransom request for one million dollars, a suitcase of dirty underwear, a stolen car, an altercation with nihilists, various beatings, guns, a bowling tournament, interpretive dance, a sexual liaison, a ferret, some drugs, painting in the nude, the removal of a toe, a wicky drug-induced dream sequence, copious amounts of profanity and even a death, all with The Dude right smack in the middle. Up to that point, The Dude has, by choice, an uncomplicated life. His employment is, shall we say, irregular. His apartment is modest. He likes to bowl and hang out with his friends. All that is about to change!!
Here is the introductory monologue (Cowboy accent):
The Stranger: [voiceover] Way out west there was this fella I wanna tell ya about. Goes by the name of Jeff Lebowski. At least that was the handle his loving parents gave him, but he never had much use for it himself. See, this Lebowski, he called himself “The Dude”. Now, “Dude” – there’s a name no man would self-apply where I come from. But then there was a lot about the Dude that didn’t make a whole lot of sense. And a lot about where he lived, likewise. But then again, maybe that’s why I found the place so darned interestin’. See, they call Los Angeles the “City Of Angels”; but I didn’t find it to be that, exactly. But I’ll allow it as there are some nice folks there. ‘Course I ain’t never been to London, and I ain’t never seen France. And I ain’t never seen no queen in her damned undies, so the feller says. But I’ll tell you what – after seeing Los Angeles, and this here story I’m about to unfold, well, I guess I seen somethin’ every bit as stupefyin’ as you’d seen in any of them other places. And in English, too. So I can die with a smile on my face, without feelin’ like the good Lord gypped me.
Now this here story I’m about to unfold took place in the early ’90s – just about the time of our conflict with Sad’m and the I-raqis. I only mention it because sometimes there’s a man… I won’t say a hero, ’cause, what’s a hero? Sometimes, there’s a man. And I’m talkin’ about the Dude here – the Dude from Los Angeles. Sometimes, there’s a man, well, he’s the man for his time and place. He fits right in there. And that’s the Dude. The Dude, from Los Angeles. And even if he’s a lazy man – and the Dude was most certainly that. Quite possibly the laziest in all of Los Angeles County, which would place him high in the runnin’ for laziest worldwide. Sometimes there’s a man, sometimes, there’s a man. Well, I lost my train of thought here. But… aw, hell. I’ve done introduced it enough.
Then near the end of the movie – after all the chaos and craziness – they have the following exchange at the bowling alley bar:
The Dude: Yeah, well. The Dude abides.
The Stranger: The Dude abides. I don’t know about you but I take comfort in that. It’s good knowin’ he’s out there. The Dude. Takin’ ‘er easy for all us sinners. Shoosh. I sure hope he makes the finals.
The above is from one of the Dude’s amazing acid flashbacks while he is hooking up with Julianne Moore’s wonderful character as the Big Lebowski’s angry daughter. It is fun to study some of the awesome dialogue. Here is his confrontation with the rich cripple that has his same name.
The Big Lebowski: Are you employed, sir?
The Dude: Employed?
The Big Lebowski: You don’t go out looking for a job dressed like that? On a weekday?
The Dude: Is this a… what day is this?
The Big Lebowski: Well, I do work sir, so if you don’t mind…
The Dude: I do mind, the Dude minds. This will not stand, ya know, this aggression will not stand, man….
The Big Lebowski: Your revolution is over, Mr. Lebowski. Condolences. The bums lost. My advice is to do what your parents did; get a job, sir. The bums will always lose. Do you hear me, Lebowski? [the Dude walks out and shuts the door]
The Big Lebowski: The bums will always lose!
Brandt: How was your meeting, Mr. Lebowski?
The Dude: Okay. The old man told me to take any rug in the house.
Brandt: You never went to college…
The Dude: Oh, no I did, but I spent most of my time occupying various administration buildings… smoking a lot of thai stick… breaking into the ROTC… and bowling. To tell you the truth Brandt, I don’t remember most of it.
The Dude: Uh, and then, uh, the music business, briefly.
Maude Lebowski: Oh?
The Dude: Yeah. Roadie for Metallica
Maude Lebowski: Oh.
The Dude: Speed of Sound Tour
Maude Lebowski: Mm-hmm.
The Dude: Bunch of assholes.
One of my favorite characters is his crazy sidekick – Walter. John Goodman is truly perfect as Walter with his stickler to the rules and his misreading of information. Goodman has a great, cartoon-like army look that is truly Walter and no one could play that role better than him. Goodman has great chemistry with Bridges as they make one of the best comedies duo of all-time. Below you will find one of the classic confrontations that Walter always seems to get into.
The Dude: Walter, I love you, but sooner or later, you’re going to have to realize the fact that you’re a god damn moron…
Walter Sobchak: If you mark that frame an ‘8’, you are entering a world of pain. (Pulls out a gun) A world… of pain. (shouting, and holding a gun) Has the whole world gone crazy!? Am I the only one here who gives a shit about the rules!? Mark it zero! You think I’m fucking around? (cocks gun) Mark it zero!
The Dude: Just take it easy man.
Walter Sobchak: I’m perfectly calm Dude.
The Dude: [shouting] Yeah, waving the fucking gun around?
Walter Sobchak: Calmer than you are.
The Dude: Will you just take it easy?
Walter Sobchak: Calmer than you are.
The bowling alley is the scene for another philosophical discussion among the three friends. The Dude is making a Marxist argument about how money rules everything. Note the confusion over the name “Lenin.”
The Dude: It’s like what Lenin said… you look for the person who will benefit, and, uh, uh…
Donny: I am the walrus.
The Dude: You know what I’m trying to say…
Walter Sobchak: That fucking bitch…
The Dude: Oh yeah!
Donny: I am the walrus.
Walter Sobchak: Shut the fuck up, Donny! V.I. Lenin. Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov!
Donny: What the fuck is he talking about, Dude?
Here are parts of some reviews I found at Amazon and elsewhere.
“The Dude” played by Jeff Bridges is an aging old California hippie that just wants to bowl and smoke pot but finds himself caught up in a complex kidnapping plot of Someone’s wife that shares his last name. John Goodman plays the “dudes” best friend and is one of the funniest characters in the film. This is one to watch over and over. Like many smart comedies the jokes in this film are muti-layered and found only funny after a second or third viewing. Sometime it goes right over your head.”
“The Big Lebowski is every bit a Coen movie, and its lazy plot is part of its laidback charm. After all, how many movies can claim as their hero a pot-bellied, pot-smoking loser named Jeff “The Dude” Lebowski (Jeff Bridges) who spends most of his time bowling and getting stoned? And where else could you find a hairnetted Latino bowler named Jesus (John Turturro) who sports dazzling purple footgear, or an erotic artist (Julianne Moore) whose creativity consists of covering her naked body in paint, flying through the air in a leather harness, and splatting herself against a giant canvas? Who else but the Coens would think of showing you a camera view from inside the holes of a bowling ball, or an elaborate Busby Berkely-styled musical dream sequence involving a Viking goddess and giant bowling pins? The plot–which finds Lebowski involved in a kidnapping scheme after he’s mistaken for a rich guy with the same name–is almost beside the point. What counts here is a steady cascade of hilarious dialogue, great work from Coen regulars John Goodman and Steve Buscemi, and the kind of cinematic ingenuity that puts the Coens in a class all their own. Be sure to watch with snacks in hand, because The Big Lebowski might give you a giddy case of the munchies.” – Jeff Shannon
Walter gives us a fitting summary of the movie and life in general when he states (after letting Donnie’s ashes fly in the Dude’s face.) “Fuck it Dude, let’s go bowling!!” Enjoy the movie often and with good herb!!