The Big Lebowski is not your average movie. It is important to note that this movie does not have a clear plot. It is as whimsical and hazy like the Dude as well as surprising and exhilarating like Walter. This movie is its own attitude, its own personality, and it’s own philosophy. In a sense, the film is its own mindset on how it is different from other movies of the time (excluding other Coen Brothers films.) The person who watches this for the first time thinks that this movie does have a plot. Indeed on the surface the movie does have a plot from a blonde trophy wife who runs away from her old but wealthy husband, The Dude being accused of owning money to Jackie Treehorn, Maude Lebowski trying to investigate her father’s wealth, etc. Besides all that, there really is no plot. The Dude is pulled from his every day Californian lazy life to an hodgepodge adventure of “sex, money, and threats” ranging from Germans wanting “da money” to a crazy veteran who seems to keep Vietnam analogous throughout the entire film.
The Coen Brothers is able to keep the movie going despite having a plot and dialogue that is so jumbled but executes itself flawlessly. The dialogue is tremendously off but workable. Only the Coen Brothers in my opinion could ever make something so hallucinogenic so relatable. Even within the madness of the dialogue, this film was able to spawn a religion, the annual Dude Day (I was unfortunately not able to go), and put Jeff Bridges as the all forgiving god of Dudeism. The Dude Abides and El Duderino can marry the lucky couples out there who are just as dedicated to bowling and White Russians.
The protagonist of this movie “The Dude” lives in either Venice Beach or Malibu in the early 90s. He has a wardrobe filled with floppy white shirts, shapeless but sad looking shorts, his brown sandals, and his trusty sunglasses that gives him the will and power of The Dude. He has unkempt shaggy hair, he always seems to have just the right amount of weed, he bowls with two other men, he is unemployed but he is still able to have a car (a rusty and beat up Gran Torino), always has the ingredients for an White Russian, has a roof over his head, somehow has running water and electricity, and he doesn’t seem to be starving. The Dude certainly abides the laws of finance and nature but ironically he can bear all that. The Dude in any shape or form is certainly like a beach pebble. Over time, the pebble erodes but is left smooth. That’s exactly the Dude right there. The Dude in this generation’s terms can be a person who still wears Coachella outfits from 2015 but with the power of escapism has never left. This person probably lives in Palm Springs and is somehow living and abiding to his or her powers and their philosophy of life.
Our hero is on a search. He is on a search of the two men who have peed on his rug. Now this isn’t any rug. This rug really “tied the room together”. It turns out that he was falsely mistaken as the billionaire “Jeffrey Lebowski”. His attitude towards life gives us the famous quote “I am not Mr. Lebowski. You’re Mr. Lebowski. I’m the Dude. So that’s what you call me. Ya know? That… or his Dudeness or El Duderino if you’re into the whole brevity thing.”
During the entire film, the Dude is taken on an epic adventure ride on trying to save a kidnapped trophy wife, being beaten by two henchmen from Jackie Treehorn only to be taken to his estate in Malibu (despite not being the original Mr. Lebowski), his encounters with Maude Lebowski, and Bunny’s supposed German kidnappers. All of this is for the rug. The Dude could have been compensated or could have let go of his rug situation by merely stealing one of Mr. Lebowski’s rugs (which he rightfully did) and could have been ok with that. But by the wise words of George H.W. Bush about Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait (“This aggression shall not stand”) and Walter’s remarks on the situation (“Whereas what we have here? A bunch of fig-eaters wearing towels on their heads, trying to find reverse in a Soviet tank. This is not a worthy adversary.”) As crazy and stupid as these remarks may be, Walter and George H.W Bush is absolutely correct. In a strange and ironic twist, Walter is proven right in his idiotic statements. These people that the Dude are up against in this joyride are not a worthy adversary. They play the Dude around like a marionette toy. The Dude by the end of the film is only trying to make amends meet for his rug. He doesn’t want to be part of this. But yet he is manipulated by being water boarded, lied, had fake money dangling in front of his eyes, authorities from higher positions of power laughing and looking down on him, etc. The Dude doesn’t deserve this at all. This aggression shall not stand. However sad or depressing this may be, all is not lost. Bunny’s detective (who also happens to be stalking the Dude) imagines the Dude to be a charming man with swagger who has the money, the women, and high profile players that are playing the cat and mouse game. The Dude at the end becomes the regular same old Dude that we knew from the beginning. His diet that comprises of White Russians, the occasional weed, and bowling all gives hime the needs of life’s simplicities (a roof over his head) and he still gets to enjoy bowling with friends. No depression is allowed for the Dude because the Dude ultimately abides and flows through life’s changes.