The Big Lebowski: What's the big deal?

I’ve tried to watch and enjoy this movie several times. I just don’t find it funny and I usually love the Coen brothers. Am I just not cool enough to ‘get it?’

*Raising Arizona *is probably my favorite Coen movie with *Fargo *not far behind

Hey, you like what you like.

We saw it the first night it came out. I walked out of the theater saying, “What a GREAT movie!”

My girlfriend’s reaction: “That was stupid.”

My best friend and I went to see Burn after Reading.

My reaction: Great movie.

His reaction: It was stupid.

Well, you’ve given it several chances, so I don’t know what to tell you. The first time I saw it, I didn’t like it at all. The second time I saw it, years later, I thought it was just about the funniest movie I had seen in years. I have no idea why I disliked it so much the first time, nor do I know what would have changed in me or my personality to have such a completely different reaction later.

This was my reaction completely. It went from being a movie I couldn’t care less about, to one that I consider one of my favorites after the second viewing. I am not sure I laughed once during my initial viewing, now I can barely breathe when I rewatch it.

The herbal entertainment enhancers I’m taking can’t be responsible for ALL of it :stuck_out_tongue:

Sign me up for “loved it.” Sign my wife up for “that was stupid.”

Fargo was similarly rated. Of course so was “Dumb and Dumber,” “Harold and Kumar,” and about a million other movies. She likes things like “Mission Impossible.” I can’t even follow those types of movies. I’m bored after 5 minutes and don’t care who the fuck is who. Speaks volumes about personalities, no?

I was lukewarm on it at the first viewing, but it does seem to be a movie that gets better the more times you see it. I don’t know why that is.

There’s not much to say if you don’t like it. It’s a favorite of mine. I think it’s an exceptionally funny movie with a ton of great dialogue and a lot of hilarious characters coming together in a bizarre, memorable way. If it doesn’t come off that way for you, such is life.

It’s one of my faves. As is “Burn After Reading” and “O Brother”.

But the Coen brothers are quirky. I love most of their flicks, but never really warmed up to “Raising Arizona”.

Go figure.

That’s just like, your opinion, man.

Sorry, couldn’t resist.

In all seriousness, when I think about the movie, I don’t think it’s funny. Right now I can’t think of a single line that’s so memorable and hilarious on its own. But when I watch the film–and I always watch it when I’m really down or depressed–it makes me laugh without exception. It’s not just the writing, or the directing, or the acting. It’s the combination of everything that just makes me laugh. “Beaver–you mean vagina?” and “The Malibu police chief. A real reactionary” are great because of the delivery and the context.

I can easily see people hating the film, given that the main characters are what just about anyone would consider numbskulls and losers, and given that the plot redefines the term ‘shaggy dog story’, but it’s just those features, the characters and the weirdly plotless plot, that make it for me. Despite being very nearly cartoons, there is still something real and engaging about goofs such as The Dude and Walter that I really connect to.

If that’s not enough, there are some of the great surrealistic moments in cinema, such as the Dude’s dream sequence to the tune of “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)”, and if that’s still not enough, there are, as in most Coen films, brilliant lines of dialogue:

“He fixes the cable?”

“You want a toe? I can get you a toe, believe me.”

“Smokey, this is not 'Nam. This is bowling. There are rules.”

Most of the best stuff seems to have little to do with the actual, or supposed, plot, but like the Dude’s missing rug, all the little vignettes really tie the whole thing together. I love it.

As a matter of fact, I went to see Burn After Reading last night, and although it definitely mines the same territory as Lebowski, it’s a very different film in overall tone. Pretty funny overall, but seems to lack the joyful abandon of Lebowski and Raising Arizona.

Sign me up for the “it’s one of my favorites” camp. Some of it is that I’ve got buddies that love it too. A line or fifty is quoted in most every conversation we have. Damn near every line in the movie is quotable. There’s almost no wasted dialogue. This is a rare feat.

The characters, although one-dimensional and without obvious arc, are very strong. It’s sort of what the Coens do best. You may not associate characters with people you actually know, but somehow you “know” their characters within 30 seconds of screen time. In the beginning of the movie The Stranger says something that seems to be the thesis statement for all of the Coen brothers’ movies.

“I only mention it because sometimes there’s a man… I won’t say a hero, ‘cause what’s a hero? But sometimes, there’s a man – and I’m talkin’ about the Dude here – sometimes, there’s a man, well, he’s the man for his time and place.”
As an aside, has anybody purchased the new DVD release yet? Are the extras worthwhile?

You’re right that most of them are better in context, but off the top of my head I’d suggest “Smokey, this isn’t Nam, this is bowling. There are rules!” and “I don’t roll on Shomer fucking Shabbos” as lines that are are funny on their own.

Almost exactly my reaction. I think it sags a bit in the last 40 minutes, but I’ve grown to love it!


True, I love the Nam line, and use it often. And “Nobody fucks with the Jesus…”

Not a line, but you gotta love when John Goodman smashes up the car only to have the neighbor come out and say “what happened to my car?”. Or something like that.

Anyway, don’t feel bad about not liking it and definitely quit trying to force yourself to watch it. All that is going to do is make you hate it more.

Look, what answer would satisfy you?

Have you EVER successfully explained to someone why a movie/song/book that you love and he hates is really wonderful?

I hated “Raising Arizona” passionately and was mostly bored by “Fargo.” But “The Big Lebowski” was absolutely hilarious to me.

You don’t agree? Cool. We don’t have to watch movies together.

I had a lengthy argument with my best friend at the time, walking out of Fargo. One of us thought it was brilliant. The other thought it was an insultingly pointless waste of an hour and a half.

Similarly, we have seen protracted debates on this very board about No Country for Old Men. Some think it was, far and away, no competition, the best American movie of last year. Some point at the last half hour and say, What the fuck was the point of that.

Based on preliminary dialogue, I suspect my girlfriend and I will be having a similar conversation about Burn After Reading. “Fiendishly clever ride” versus “I didn’t see the point.”

Starting to notice a theme?

Went from, “Eh, it’s alright.” to “OMFG, this is awesome!” in about 5 viewings spaced out over the years. I think it has to grow on you, but some of the funniest moments in cinema history come from this movie, for me at least. My personal favorite:

Interior scene: Coffee Diner. The Dude is holding up the abducted woman’s severed toe for Walter to see, and in order to demonstrate the severity of the situation they are now in.

                               WALTER (chuckling)
                     That wasn't her toe, dude.

                     Whose toe was it, Walter?

                     How the fuck should I know?  I do 
                     know that nothing about it indicates--

                     The nail polish, Walter.

                     Fine, Dude.  As if it's impossible 
                     to get some nail polish, apply it to 
                     someone else's toe-- (makes cutting gesture)

                     Someone else's--where the fuck are 
                     they gonna--

                     You want a toe?  I can get you a 
                     toe, believe me.  There are ways, 
                     Dude.  You don't wanna know about 
                     it, believe me.

                     But Walter--

                     I'll  get  you  a  toe by  3 O' clock this 
                     afternoon--***with nail  polish***. (laughing)These  
                     fucking amateurs.   They send us a  
                     toe, we're  supposed to  shit our- 
                     selves with fear.  Jesus Christ.

How could you not laugh like a maniac at that? Now I want to watch this again!

(The Dude and friends patiently sitting through his landlord’s interpretive dance show because he is letting him skate on the rent)