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Headscratchers / The Big Lebowski

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  • On Rewatch Bonus, the entry says that the Dude dropping J's on the counter is subtle Character Development. Could someone explain how, please?
    • By "Character Development" I think the troper is referring to the Coen Brothers adding little details to the character, not The Dude growing as a person or anything.
      • In that case, it ISN'T Character Development, at least not the way we define it on this wiki.
      • I agree. The story takes place over the period of what, a week? There's not much development to be had. I think people sometimes get Character Depth (which the movie has in spades) mixed up with Character Development. Great film anyway.
      • After watching the movie, I actually thought that the Dude did experience some character development, becoming a little more aggressive and proactive, actually taking charge a little. It's most likely due to his anger at the whole situation he's become involved in, and thus may not be permanent character development. However, compare his behavior in the final few scenes with it in the first few scenes, and tell me you don't see a difference.
      • He certainly goes go from just being all laid-back and "fuck it" when the Big Lebowski gives him attitude in their first meeting to genuinely pissed off when he discovers that the Big Lebowski stole the money from the children's charity and was willing to let his wife be murdered by kidnappers to cover it up. Then again, as mentioned above this could also be a Berserk Button about stealing from hard-up kids, endangering women and getting him involved in the whole mess.
      • The point behind The Dude is that he doesn't really change. The Dude abides...
      • It seems like a simple misuse of the term "Character Development." The Dude absentmindedly tossing a J on the counter doesn't reflect a profound change of his outlook or convictions, but it sure is the sort of thing a lazy, burned-out stoner might do.
  • I know it was for the audience's benefit, many of whom would be unfamiliar with the concept, but why would Walter only now be explaining to Donny what Shomer Shabbos means if he's been Jewish for at least five years, plus however long he was married? I tried to rationalize it in my head as Donny just keeps forgetting what it means, but then why wouldn't Walter scream something like "God DAMMIT Donny, I've explained it a thousand times!"
    • Walter couldn't count over a thousand. So once he said he'd explained it a thousand times, he couldn't say that anymore, because it was over a thousand and beside Donny isn't that bright and maybe he wouldn't understand it even if you explained in really small words like if he was a kid or something because he's not smart but he's kinda stupid but he's not retarded or anything so maybe Donny hit his head surfing and ended up with a concussion and is just kind of "out of it" because if you have a concussion you can't drink alcohol and Donny never does. Just soda pop.
      • Um...what? Anyway, to the original poster, it's entirely possible that Donny just never thought to ask before. He has been shown to be a little oblivious.
      • It's fairly simple—he's just always rolling when Walter brings it up. By the time he sits down, Walter's stopped talking about it.
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    • Almost any time Donny opens his mouth, the response from Walter is "Shut the fuck up, Donny." It's not outside the realm of possibility that Donny has asked before, only to be met with this same dismissal. It's just that this time he happened to luck out and get Walter to answer him for once.
    • Also, with Walter being the kind of a person he is (and known for Broken Record inclinations), this troper wouldn't be surprised if he, yes, had actually run through the whole rant a thousand of times before and was still going to do it for the 1001st time.
  • How were Walter/his bowling team able to stay in the tournament after he pulls the gun on Smokey? Smokey obviously reported him, we hear a message on the Dude's answering machine about how it was a violation of league rules and, heck, we even see police rush into the bowling alley after the incident. Were they just able to pull strings to get out of any sort of punishment?
    • The Dude's true skill (aside from bowling) seems to be being able to talk to and come to an understanding with anyone that's not just hellbent on being unreasonable. It's how he avoids paying his rent, and probably how these situations were resolved. He just talked to the league officials and the cops until they were like "Okay, Dude, but stay out of trouble from now on, okay? See you around!"
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    • I don't think talking is one if the Dudes skills, I think it's actually his weakest trait. He's constantly over-ruled and used because he's unable to convince anyone of anything.
      • Although, if your landlord wanted you to watch an interpretive dance performance as awful as the one in the movie, wouldn't you want a free pass on a month's rent in exchange?
    • I've always just liked to think that the Dude's bowling league is really hard core. To the point where pulling a gun won't get you disqualified, because, shit, Smokey was over the line!
      • In a later scene, The Dude gets a message on his answering machine from people in the league organization. They do mention that pulling a firearm during league play violates several bylaws, but the message cuts off before they could mention what the penalty for violating them is. Chances are, Walter was the reason for at least one of those bylaws.
  • It's just for fun, but don't you think that Walter, when he points the gun at Smokey, could just have bluffed and joked in order to scare him and forcing him to mark zero? Yeah, he pulls out the magazine, but it could have been empty.
    • It's implied once or twice that Walter is more bluster than action, at least with the people he knows, so this would be perfectly appropriate.
    • He went from roaring and rampaging to completely cowering once the real owner of the car came out; it's only at the end, when Walter stops blustering and shouting that he becomes genuinely badass, calmly biting the ear off a nihilist.
      • I always imagined Walter as a character similar to D-FENS from Falling Down in that he reaches a tipping point and then goes off against anything he doesn't see as "right". When presented with irrefutable proof that HE is the one who isn't "right", (ie when he smashes up the Corvette), it shatters his entire worldview, and that the "cowering" isn't out of cowardice, it's him having a Heroic BSoD.
      • A little know-how about the way guns work can help answer the question: Walter's 1911A1 pistol would have locked open if he tried racking the slide with an empty magazine. You can keep that from happening by pressing down on the slide release, but Walter wasn't doing that when he chambered it. He also clears the chamber and ejects a round after Smokey marks it 0, so yeah, he wasn't bluffing with an empty gun. Craziness is also perfectly in-character for Walter, and it WAS a league game.
    • Isn't "Walter was bluffing" the DEFAULT assumption? Walter may be an asshole, but I don't think he's willing to shoot a guy in the head over a disagreement. Walter is loud and argumentative and obnoxious and believes he's always right, but I don't think he's outright evil to the point of being a murderer. That being said, the gun was almost certainly loaded. Walter may not be willing to kill a guy, but he's severely impaired in the "common sense" department.
  • How does the Dude support himself? We never see him work! There's no evidence that he's disabled/on welfare!
    • He postdates checks (as seen in the beginning), convinces his landlord to let him slide on the rent, etc.
    • Perhaps tournament winners get cash prizes. He postdates checks until after he's won.
    • I just assumed he was a trust fund baby.
    • My pet theory is that it was some kind of lawsuit or settlement. If I were to make something up, I'd say he sued Storm (the bowling ball company) for causing carpal tunnel syndrome and they offered a settlement for him to go away. Walter represented him.
    • I assumed he was a slacker who happened to inherit money and property from a parent/relative.
    • No evidence that we see that he's on welfare. For all we know, he is, but it simply never comes up. The man lives pretty modestly, after all.
    • In an early draft of the script, The Dude's source of income was revealed that he was an heir to the inventor of the Rubik's Cube.
      • In whch case, the title would be The Big Rubik.
  • How is Walter still wearing his Vietnam uniform in the scene where they drop the fake money? He's...clearly not at his fighting weight.
    • He had another uniform made to fit him.
    • There's some indication that he actually never been to war. Dollars to doughnuts he just bought it; military-style clothing and gear are widely available on the civilian market and come in sizes much bigger than the usual Government Issue.
  • One question: why does the main page say narrator is Wrong Genre Savvy ? Because he wears Cowboy outfit? When do we see that he thinks he's in a Western?
    • Got it in one, friend. At best this movie is comedy, with mystery overtones and arthouse undertones. There are no horses, and only one cowboy hat. And he keeps talking in that Southern Drawl about heroes and adventure. Does 'the Dude' really look like a hero to you?
    • The tone of the Stranger's narration is also that which is typically used in westerns, lots of talk about the prairie and coyotes and whatnot, and talking about the Dude as if he's some mysterious gunslinger in a western who's just ambled into town to sort it out and bring justice instead of the brain-fried hippy being bumbling through things with no real idea of what's going on that he clearly is. Which is particularly egregious since if we must apply a genre to what happens to the Dude, it's far closer to a film noir than a western.
  • So...what did the doctor do with the Dude, after he removed his shorts?
    • I guess he tested to see if the Dude was impotent?
    • Or to check for STI's, since Maude would be "loving him" without protection.
    • Or to make sure that his little swimmers were up to the job of impregnating her, if you catch my drift. Or all three. The doctor, we can clearly surmise, specializes in matters pertaining to fertility and sexual health, so it was probably a combination.
    • Given the soundtrack choice and The Dude's mood immediately following, most likely a colon cleansing was involved. There would have been time enough for that, not so much the earlier ideas.
    • My first thought, when I saw The Dude right afterwards, was that the doctor had given him a "feel-good shot" in the butt. However, Maude was quite insistent that he see the doctor and the only reason she would care whether he did or not was because she needed to know if he was a good candidate for a sperm donor.
  • Why did Maude use violence to get the rug back? Why didn't she just knock on the door and ask for the rug?
    • Because she's a weirdo who doesn't understand basic human interaction, like most other people in the movie. It's partly to show that she's a Hypocrite I imagine. She's very dismissive of her father's old-school rich lifestyle and living in his own little world, while she simply lives her own new-school rich hipster lifestyle in her own little world.
  • Is Dudeism really a legally recognized religion?
  • So Bunny's kidnapping is fake, but Bunny herself is not in on it, right? In that case, how do the kidnappers expect it to work? They can't return her at will, they can't count on her not returning too soon, and most importantly, even if she comes back at just the right time, she won't have any idea she was "kidnapped", and so everyone will know it was fake as soon as they talk to her.
    • Bunny wasn't in on it, no, but pay attention to the scene where the Dude arrives at the Big Lebowski's house after she's returned; when Brandt says that Bunny had just gone to visit a friend, the Dude rather scathingly points out "I bet the nihilists knew that!" Presumably Bunny, who knew the nihilists, gave them some idea of how long she'd be away for. In any case, these are hardly criminal masterminds we're discussing here; essentially, the plan is just to try and con the Big Lebowski out of some easy money and then scarper before he realises he's been had. They probably didn't anticipate it being more than twenty four hours before payday, but got caught up in the chaos along with everyone else.
  • Does The Dude ever correct Maude? She refers to him as "Jeffrey" and "Mr. Lebowski" all the time, and I don't think he ever objects. He constantly objects to when Treehorn, his Goons, and the other Jeffrey Lebowski call him by any name other than The Dude. Did I miss a scene, and if not, why doesn't he try to correct her?
    • She's a beautiful woman he'd maybe like to sleep with. Getting snotty or overly-argumentative about his name might make that less likely to happen, so he lets it slide. It's less of a problem with the others because (a) he doesn't want to sleep with them, (b) he doesn't really care what they think about him and/or (c) in the case of the thugs, he's distinguishing between himself and the person they've mistaken him for.
  • So even if it was ultimately empty...what happened to the Brief Case? Larry didn't take anything else out of the car.
    • It was probably stolen by the guy who had peed in the car.
  • Did Larry even have anything to do with the car stealing in the first place? He doesn't admit it, and there's no explanation of how and why the essay was planted in the car.
    • My guess is tht he was frustrated over the low mark he got for the essay so he tore it off the notebook and threw in a bin. Then some bum took it from there for wrapping or something - and then he saw a car where he slept, peed and left the essay in question.


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