March 8, 2018

"Though the movie was not a huge box-office success, it has since spawned a pseudo-religion, Dudeism, with more than 450,000 'ordained priests'..."

"... annual festivals around the country where thousands of costume-clad fans gather to celebrate the film and all its obscure moments; books and academic treatments; White Russian competitions, and legions of fans so fervent that they inspired a film of their own, the documentary, 'The Achievers.'"

From "'The Big Lebowski' is 20. We reached out to the critics who panned it to see what they think now" (WaPo).

It's fun reading the old bad reviews — "In Lebowski, we lose track not only of plot devices but of whole characters, who come and go without finding a reason to be. (John) Turturro is wasted as a bowler named Jesus, a convicted pedophile in Spandex. He is an amazing creation, but he has no function"... "What’s the point of scoring off morons who think they are cool? Jeff Bridges has so much dedication as an actor that he sacrifices himself to the Coen brothers’ self-defeating conception"... "‘The Big Lebowski’ lacks what even the most unhinged comedies must have in order to work: the recognition that out there, beyond the pratfalls and the wisecracks, lurks the darkness. … The Coens can’t be bothered — or perhaps they don’t know how — to make a connection between what’s inside their smart-aleck heads and the plodding, sometimes painful world in which the rest of us live when we’re not at the movies"... "'The Big Lebowski’ is ultimately too clever for its own good...."

56 comments:

rhhardin said...

I liked it but haven't rewatched it.

Bueller's day off I've watched twice, in the genre.

rhhardin said...

Obscure plots is no different from movies where you don't recognize which character is which. You just go into movie mode.

robother said...

Yeah, well, that's your opinion, man.

Lars Porsena said...

Blogger robother said...
Yeah, well, that's your opinion, man.

3/8/18, 7:03 AM

LOL

C Hayes said...

I will proudly state that i saw this movie when it came out originally. I thought it was very funny, but frankly i had no idea what i had actually watched. It's one of those movies that you need to watch more that once to figure out, i think.

Fernandistein said...

"Come join the slowest-growing religion in the world – Dudeism. An ancient philosophy that preaches non-preachiness, practices as little as possible, and above all, uh…lost my train of thought there. Anyway, if you’d like to find peace on earth and goodwill, man, we’ll help you get started. Right after a little nap.

First, you might want to
Get ordained as a Dudeist priest. There are over 450,000 worldwide.
...
As an ordained Dudeist Priest, you can minister over religious ceremonies in most U.S. States (laws vary, so check with your local County Clerk first), and assorted other countries. Preside over a wedding, funeral, or any kind of celebration with pride and authority."

There's a picture of Walter Sobchak, so you know it's legit.

Tim in Vermont said...

And yet, “the Dude abides.”

Unknown said...

It seems it was too much to ask -- even way back in the late 90s -- that film critics recognize a spoof of film noir.

Tim in Vermont said...

I kind of feel the same way that the critics felt about The Big Lebowski about Inside Lewellyn Davis though, I have to admit. I wonder if in 20 years, I will be identified as a fuddy duddy who didn’t get it.

Bob Dylan, as a character, makes an entrance in that movie. But I just didn’t get the cat <<-- Literally a cat, not a ‘cat’ as in musician.

Tim in Vermont said...

I don’t think it was a “spoof” of film noir, but there were elements of homage. I think it was kind of new. I remember the song that killed disco, IMHO, was My Sharona. Though I hated disco, the first time I heard that song I hated it, it was so different from what was on the radio at the time, I just didn’t get it. Now I love that song every time it comes on and turn it up, and if I can, I drink a toast to the death of disco. (You young people don’t know, because all you hear are the few decent songs from the era, listen to Disco Duck sometime.)

MadisonMan said...

I watched it once, and I'm not rewatching. It's unwatchable to me, so I agree with the old reviews that panned it.

I know people who rave about the movie. I can only think "Get a life Dude"

If you need to watch a movie more than once to understand it, then you've lost me. That's the definition of a bad movie, in fact.

The Germans Have A Word For That. said...

Lebowski is old news. That train has left the station.

Now is the time to get on the new train to cult status:

Laslo Films presents 'Uncle Bennie Is Coming Home From Prison 2.0' TRAILER

Because being free is the best freedom there is.

The Germans have a word for this.

Ficta said...

If you're a Dudeist, watch The Big Sleep and The Big Lebowski back to back sometime, I think you'll find the results amusing.

I find Llewyn Davis compelling for reasons I can't really put my finger on, since it consists of watching a man trudge round and round his (mostly) self made circle of Hell. The number of chances for success he willfully squanders is staggering. I think it may be a parable... My favorite (which I realize is a weird term to use) is when he mouths off to the guy at the union hall about not getting his licence because he's a communist and the guy leans forward and whispers "Shachtmanite?" I'm yelling at the screen, "dude, go with it, he'd help a fellow Comrade out".

Tim in Vermont said...

"In Lebowski, we lose track not only of plot devices but of whole characters, who come and go without finding a reason to be. (John) Turturro is wasted as a bowler named Jesus, a convicted pedophile in Spandex. He is an amazing creation, but he has no function”.

Like I always say, “It’s a tall order to prove a negative.”

Tim in Vermont said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tim in Vermont said...

The number of chances for success he willfully squanders is staggering.

Then that fucking bastard Bob Dylan walks up to the table and rakes up all of the chips.

Ann Althouse said...

I kind of agree with this. From the Wikipedia page on Dudeism:

"The Dudeist belief system is essentially a modernized form of Taoism stripped of all of its metaphysical and medical doctrines. Dudeism advocates and encourages the practice of "going with the flow", "being cool headed", and "taking it easy" in the face of life's difficulties, believing that this is the only way to live in harmony with our inner nature and the challenges of interacting with other people. It also aims to assuage feelings of inadequacy that arise in societies which place a heavy emphasis on achievement and personal fortune. Consequently, simple everyday pleasures like bathing, bowling, and hanging out with friends are seen as far preferable to the accumulation of wealth and the spending of money as a means to achieve happiness and spiritual fulfillment."

Tim in Vermont said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bob Boyd said...

I see they already made the porn version of 'Get Out'

It's called 'Don't Rush Off'

The Cracker Emcee Classic said...

“If you need to watch a movie more than once to understand it, then you've lost me. That's the definition of a bad movie, in fact.”

Or a great one. Lebowski reminds me of Napoleon Dynamite, comically life-affirming (ugh! sorry) but recognizing the grim plodding that underlies so much of our days. And like ND, you’re going to have to watch it six times to appreciate everything. So, more grim plodding.

Jeff Roth said...

Seeing a complex or difficult movie more than once to “get it” is analogous to needing to see a work of art multiple times to “get it”. 2001, Fight Club, Inception, even The Matrix are a few examples.

Easy to understand is not necessarily the hallmark of good of great art in any medium, though contrived incomprehensibilty is almost always bad art.

IMHO.

Browndog said...

I made it through maybe 1/2 hour of The Big Lebowski before bagging it. The characters were very entertaining, but didn't see where it was going, or why. I learned my lesson after watching all of Forrest Gump. What a dreadful, pointless movie.

I did watch The Matrix a few times to try to understand it, only because I needed to understand it.

Bill, Republic of Texas said...

I saw it once. It was ok. The strongest memory I have was that I agreed with the villian's (guy in wheelchair?) speech about the producers vs the dudes.

So I guess I wasn't the target audience.

Bill in Pasadena said...

Someone pointed out that the movies by the Coen brothers feature mainly white people and Joel Coen is married to... ooooops... Frances McDormand. We'll see how that develops.

Kirk Parker said...

"Shut up, MadMan!"

And then there's THIS.

traditionalguy said...

Spoofing the silly people who take life and death seriously has been around since The 1950s, at least. We had a College paper that did that at a high level in the 1963-64 era. It was even better than the later Harvard Lampoon and the Animal House's approach.

But that may be the ultimate bubble of our affluent and peacetime privilege. And we seem to be going into another one now.

But a serious war of unavoidable death and destruction will eliminate that bubble, as Viet Nam did for our generation, and as the WWII's mega killing festival did for Philosopy, leaving only with Existentialism and Nietsche behind.

rhhardin said...

Forrest Gump. What a dreadful, pointless movie.

Morality and intelligence aren't the same, is the point.

rcocean said...

Nihilists! Fuck me. I mean, say what you want about the tenets of National Socialism, Dude, at least it's an ethos.

rcocean said...

Three thousand years of beautiful tradition, from Moses to Sandy Koufax...

David-2 said...

I'm still sad about what happened to Donny.

John Tuffnell said...

"I'm still sad about what happened to Donny."

But the spreading of his ashes was the funniest part of the movie. Even then he was out of his element.

rehajm said...

What's to know? Fuck it. Let it wash over you and enjoy...

gadfly said...

Coen Brothers movies took a turn to comedy with "Lebowski," albeit stoner comedy featuring The Dude and Walter involved in a mistaken identity, a whole lot of bowling and the question, "who stole the rug?" But comedic dialog finds its way into all of the Coen movies, especially "Fargo" which has to be their classic "film noir."

I am a Coen Brothers junky and I find a way to love them all - and they use the same actors over and over. Jeff Bridges was the new actor in "The Big Lebowski." A point to make is that following the plot infers that movie goers care about the story when all they really want is to be entertained. So when the next Coen movie appears, the subject is unimportant, as is a tight story line, but the anticipated really strange ending will keep you in your seat.

"Yeah, well, that's like your opinion, man." ~ The Dude

Tim in Vermont said...

The strongest memory I have was that I agreed with the villian's (guy in wheelchair?) speech about the producers vs the dudes.

I always felt he was a well constructed character with valid motivations. Here he was surrounded by wealth he couldn’t control in any significant way, all of his ex-wife’s money had been tied up in trusts, IIRS, married to a using bitch. Given those facts, his “kidnapping” plot was a perfectly reasonable response to the ruin that was his life.

It’s also true that “Dudeism” as presented, was kind of parasitical. He was like a mouse who lived in the walls of rich people’s houses, and gathered crumbs.

Tim in Vermont said...

IIRC

Dan Hossley said...

Well, like, that's just their opinion, man.

Robert Rogers said...

I think the cat in Llewyn Davis is meant to mock Save The Cat

gadfly said...

@Tim in Vermont said...
I kind of feel the same way that the critics felt about The Big Lebowski about Inside Lewellyn Davis though, I have to admit. I wonder if in 20 years, I will be identified as a fuddy duddy who didn’t get it.

Bob Dylan, as a character, makes an entrance in that movie. But I just didn’t get the cat <<-- Literally a cat, not a ‘cat’ as in musician.


Ulysses the cat and his stray ginger moggy replacement is the singing partner (Mike), who made Llewyn Davis a success according to most analyses, but Joel Coen explained:"The film doesn't really have a plot. That concerned us at one point - that's why we threw the cat in."

Yancey Ward said...

I liked the movie, but it is in the lower third on my list of the Coen brothers' movies of which I have seen them all more than once except for the most recent one.

Yancey Ward said...

Tim in Vermont

"I remember the song that killed disco, IMHO, was My Sharona. Though I hated disco, the first time I heard that song I hated it, it was so different from what was on the radio at the time, I just didn’t get it. Now I love that song every time it comes on and turn it up, and if I can, I drink a toast to the death of disco."

You and I must be a similar age since I had a nearly identical reaction to My Sharona (I was 13 years old when the song hit the radio). The only real difference is that I still liked Disco long after its death, and do today.

Michael K said...

Blogger rhhardin said...
Forrest Gump. What a dreadful, pointless movie.

Morality and intelligence aren't the same, is the point.


It's almost a tell on political party.

The producers were astonished at its success.

Robert Rogers said...

One of the weird things about Llewyn Davis is that the only time anyone is having fun making music is during the recording of that silly novelty song. During every other song, it looks like people are having a catheter inserted. I haven't seen all of Lebowski, I seem to always catch it in the middle on TV. But there seems to be more abiding than enjoying.

Scott M said...

Had it not been for The Big Labowski, we probably wouldn't have gotten Oh Brother Where Art Thou and that would have been a tragedy of the highest order.

Tim in Vermont said...

Joel Coen explained:”The film doesn't really have a plot. That concerned us at one point - that’s why we threw the cat in."

They should have named the cat MacGuffin.

Tim in Vermont said...

Or maybe they just read “Save the Cat” and used the advice.

From the description of Save the Cat:
Here’s what started the phenomenon: the best seller, for over 15 years, that’s been used by screenwriters around the world! Blake Snyder tells all in this fast, funny and candid look inside the movie business. “Save the Cat” is just one of many ironclad rules for making your ideas more marketable and your script more satisfying, including: The four elements of every winning logline The seven immutable laws of screenplay physics The 10 genres that every movie....

Tim in Vermont said...

Hat tip to Robert Rogers on the above comment, BTW.

Tim in Vermont said...

Forrest Gump. What a dreadful, pointless movie.

"If it hadn’t of been for Johson and his fucking war!”

When liberals make movies about that time, they talk about “the administration!” and heavily imply that it was Nixon who got us into that mess, or maybe Goldwater, or Reagan, somehow in some unstated way. They don’t mention any actual Democrats, you know, the ones who got us into it and escalated it.

The Godfather said...

I haven’t seen “The Big Lebowski”. Maybe I should. But I have seen a lot of movies twice, and I can say this: If you have to see a movie twice to “get it”, then it’s not a good movie. The movie genre isn’t intended that way. Elizabethan poetry, yes, but movies, no.

Some movies can be seen multiple times, but not for greater understanding. You see them multiple times for enjoyment. I’ve seen “Shane” at least half a dozen times, and “Casablanca” about the same. And there are many others. It’s not that you see something the third time that you didn’t see the first or second time (like the gunman who runs away when Shane walks in the bar), it’s just that you enjoy the experience the third and fourth, etc. time almost as much as the first (or maybe more). Movies used to be made for entertainment. Now the moviemakers think they’re making art. “Cabaret” was, I guess, “art”. But it was nevertheless a very entertaining movie, with a very dark theme; I’ve watched it at least three or four times and will watch it again. We watched “Lady Bird” on DVD last night. Some of the acting was really good, but there was hardly a scene in it that I’d like to see again. But I’ll watch practically anything with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers again.

Jack Tors said...

A rhetorical question: Was there even a single 2018 Best Picture nominee that was in the same ballpark of greatness as TBL?

Anthony said...

I'd been hearing how awwwwwwesome it was for years and when I finally saw it I wished I could have that time back.

Blue@9 said...

Great movie. I laughed so hard in the theatre I thought I was going to choke. Same with the friend who saw it with me. Our girlfriends chose to see some DiCaprio movie (Three Musketeers?), and they were less than pleased. Those who dismiss this movie out of hand... well, I now know not to trust your judgment.

mccullough said...

“I hate the fucking Eagles.” Best cab scene in all of cinema history,

And the film noir stuff was a red herring. The Big Lebowski is a Western

Karl Nigbor said...

So many bitter people....enjoy the movie for what it is.....

BillyTalley said...

My favorite cult film that had received universal condemnation and shrugs is John Boorman’s Zardoz. It so far has received the lonely distinction of fan appreciation from a German artist here: https://m.youtube.com/watch?t=1s&v=0x6YFcYc-8U

Mac McConnell said...

BillyTalley said...
"My favorite cult film that had received universal condemnation and shrugs is John Boorman’s Zardoz."

You would have been welcome at our Young Republican annual showing of Zardoz and A Boy and His Dog back in the 80's.

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