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The Dude Abides (Updated)

By admin Published: September 5, 2008

Dude, even I wouldn't take 10 years to see this movie. ...

Update: You can read more of my musings about "Lebowski," and about the new DVD set, in my Sunday DVD column.

Sepinwall threatened to stop speaking to me when he learned I had never seen "The Big Lebowski." And I admit that it's odd, given my fondness for a lot of Coen brothers movies ("Fargo," "Hudsucker Proxy," "Blood Simple," "No Country," "Intolerable Cruelty," "O Brother" ...) that somehow I managed to miss "Lebowski." But a copy of a new DVD of it -- due in stores next week -- landed on my desk, and I took a look, and ...

Golly, what a weird trip that is.

Which isn't to say a bad one. In fact, I would argue that it's what the Robert Altman/Elliott Gould version of "The Long Goodbye" might have been, had that film taken itself to its logical extreme. Just the way Gould's Philip Marlowe is often clueless, The Dude is more so. He has no idea what it takes to be a private eye, because it doesn't even occur to him that he is one -- even though all of his actions are in the grand tradition of private eyes. (Hence the homage from Jon Polito.) And, since there are no accidents with the Coen brothers' writing, this is a deliberate bending of "The Big Sleep," from the millionaire in the wheelchair to Julianne Moore's classic-movie speech (the kind the Coens also got with considerable flair from Jennifer Jason Leigh in "Hudsucker.")

But you know all that. And you know, too, that it is insanely, merrily digressive and funny. And you know that this, like "Animal House," demands that you add lines to your daily dialogue. But as much as I like to quote "Animal House," "The Big Lebowski" seems to lend itself to quoting followed by a near-hysterical laugh that is even stronger than the one you gave when you saw the movie the first time. I had that happen a couple of times today, in separate conversations. I may be looking for a T-shirt soon.

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