What follows is an unconventional movie review of The Big Lebowski by Joel and Ethan Coen.
Set in early 1990’s Los Angeles, this comedy follows the misadventures of a jobless loser called The Dude, whose life revolves around smoking marijuana, drinking white Russians, listening to Creedence, and bowling. His sweet carefree life is disrupted in a case of mistaken identity, when a pornographer’s idiot thugs pee on The Dude’s rug because he happens to have the same name as a crippled millionaire whose ex-pornstar trophy wife owes the pornographer money. Seeking restitution for his soiled rug, The Dude gets drawn into a convoluted mystery involving the kidnapped trophy wife. As the case unfolds, The Dude loses a million dollars in ransom money, fends off a trio of nihilists who threaten to cut off his penis, gets recruited to impregnate a feminist artist with an annoyingly affected manner of speaking, prepares to face a volatile Latino sex-offender in the next round of a bowling tournament, has his car utterly destroyed, and watches a friend die. Though the chaos and turmoil of the world threaten to upset his peaceful existence, “The Dude abides,” solves the mystery, and comes out clean on the other side.
After viewing this movie, The Dude vaulted into my pantheon of personal heroes. I wanted to be him. I desired his relaxed lifestyle; I needed the freedom that comes from having no cares or responsibilities. I began emulating The Dude in every way. I quit my job and instead worked to keep myself perpetually drunk and stoned. I joined a shady Thursday night bowling league with a couple misfit friends. I even let my hair and beard grow long and shaggy.
But copying The Dude’s lifestyle didn’t bring me happiness. Actually, it totally sucked. Jobless, I was bored and poor. Getting persistently wasted was fun at first, but soon I felt I was wasting my life. Bowling was a woeful pastime: with a 113 average I was the laughingstock of the league. My gnarly facial hair itched me incessantly. I looked and felt like a total bum. Finally I realized a truth: you can’t hope to find happiness by imitating some fictional character. Happiness is a state of mind that comes from being true to yourself and not worrying about other people’s judgments. This was the lesson that I ultimately learned from my hero, The Dude.
Despite the failure of my misguided “Dude Experiment,” I still highly recommend The Big Lebowski to anyone who loves a smart comedy. The movie has so many memorable qualities: a plotline full of surprising and humorous events; a slew of strange and hilarious ancillary characters played by talented actors; sharp, well-timed dialogue loaded with profanity; and comically trippy musical interludes. It will definitely entertain you, surely make you laugh, and perhaps even inspire you to change your life, relax, and simply abide.