The Big Lebowski

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


How can anyone not dig The Dude? In a world where energetic go-getters are idolised and looked up to, it's nice to know that there are fat, indolent, scruffy, pot smoking, beer drinking bums out there taking it easy. Or they would be if people would leave their rugs alone...

The Big Lebowski is a film where the plot is entirely inconsequential; it doesn't matter. It's just a mere device to set The Dude on his way. The joy is in watching him interact with all the weirdos in Los Angeles and in listening to the dialogue – the script is the most quotable since Withnail and I. Therefore it's the perfect film to just sit back and absorb.

Picking a favourite scene in a film that is jam packed with great moments and wonderful lines of dialogue is a near impossibility, but you'd be hard pressed to beat the scene with the Malibu police chief. "I don't like your jerk-off name. I don't like your jerk-off face. I don't like your jerk-off behaviour. And I don't like you...jerk-off." And then to cap it off he throws his mug at The Dude's head. Brilliant! And making it even funnier is the scene that immediately follows it where the taxi driver throws The Dude out of his cab. "I fucking hate The Eagles, man."

But another favourite is Jesus. He only has two scenes but both are hilarious. And I love the flashback where you see him knocking on doors to tell his neighbours that he's a pederast. Especially good is the way that a large, bearded man with a dirty shirt answers the door (I always crack up at the breath Jesus takes when he sees the man – I also noticed, for the first time, that Jesus in that flashback is visibly showing in his tight jeans; he's not a small guy).

But then there's the scene where The Dude first meets Maude Lebowski (excellently played by Julianne Moore). "I'm sorry if your stepmother is a nympho, but…" And I also like the little dig at the porno film they're watching: "The plot is ludicrous." But the comment isn't really aimed at the porno film; the film is talking about itself. It knows the plot is nonsensical but it also knows that it doesn't matter – it's best to just let it wash over you.

Mentioning porno has reminded me of Jackie Treehorn. Is there a better visual gag in modern cinema than The Dude scratching a notepad for a message or telephone number only to find a cartoon of a man with a gigantic erection? Well, maybe there is, because even earlier in the film there's the moment where The Dude spends a long time making a homemade device to keep intruders out only for him to forget the fact that his door opens outwards instead of inwards – he nails a bit of wood to the floor, props a chair up to the door handle to keep people out and the very second he walks away, the door opens and the chair comes tumbling down. Pure genius!

And Jackie Treehorn's brainless goons are brilliant too. "You're not dealing with morons here." Oh yes we are. But the film's all the better for it.

But I'm not sure what my favourite line in the film would be – again it's almost impossible to pick just one. But "I still jerk-off manually" would have to be up there, as would virtually every line Walter spews ("The Chinaman is not the issue…"). However, if I was forced (at gunpoint) to choose, I'd have to go with a piece of Dude wisdom: "Fortunately, I'm adhering to a pretty strict, uh, drug regiment to keep my mind, you know, uh, limber." And The Dude's reaction when Maude tells him that she's trying to conceive is magnificent.

Yet another brilliant scene is the Larry scene. Walter and The Dude are trying to get information out of some kid but the kid just stares impassively at them, so Walter destroys his car – or what he thinks is his car. Now at this moment I could quote the real dialogue, but the TV version dialogue is perhaps even better. "Do you see what happens, Larry? Do you see what happens when you find a stranger in the Alps?" It's even better than the immortal "Fun you, melon farmer!" from Repo Man.

Then there are the nihilists. "We believe in nothing, Lebowski. Nothing. And tomorrow we come back and we cut off your johnson." But try as they might to intimidate, the only scary thing about the nihilists is the techno music they listen to. Well, that and their obsession with the male member.

But I could quote lines from The Big Lewbowski all day. I just dig the film so much because it puts a goofy grin on my face; its stupidity is remarkably intelligent. Plus, in the end, it's actually quite heartfelt – if the film's about anything, it's about friendship…well, that and smoking pot, drinking beer, bowling and keeping hold of your johnson. Yeah, the world's a better place with The Dude in it.

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2 comments

  1. Well you know...that's like your opinion man.

    ReplyDelete