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Warning: This review might involve spoilers.
So I decided to watch The Big Lebowski after hearing so many great things about it, and... I honestly don't know what to think.
As far as I can tell from watching it once, the movie as a whole is just a compilation of seemingly random scenes that loosely tie up into something resembling a plot. There's something about a woman being kidnapped, many people being obsessed with a million dollars that nobody even knows where it is, and lots of the Dude just stumbling around trying to make sense of it.
There are various individual scenes that are funny, but as a whole, the movie feels stitched from pieces of many individual stories, never fully delving into any of them. I honestly don't even know whether to categorize it as good or bad. For the majority of the movie, I was just in a mildly amused state of "What the hell am I watching?".
In the end, the story doesn't seem to go anywhere and the Dude is pretty much in the same spot he was at the beginning. Worse even, considering all the crap he goes through and all the destruction to his property that takes place. The movie ends on a somewhat Bittersweet Ending, which results in the movie being kinda depressing by the last few minutes. Come on, you won't even let the Dude win in the end? Besides, you know, him just being somewhat optimistic for no discernible reason?
The Dude's character is pretty likable though, with his laid-back attitude and all the crap he has to deal with. Now, as for Walter... I'm on the fence with him. At times he's funny, but other times his overblown aggression combined with him being a pure Karma Houdini make him a character that I want to like, but sometimes, he just goes too damn far, man.
Overall, this isn't something that I would watch again, but I wouldn't call it bad. Just not my thing, I guess.
I'd like to know what makes people love it so much... personally, I'm just confused.
yeah, well, that's just, like, your opinion, man
...Well, it's a comedy, and much of the entertainment value is supposed to derive from the strange absurdity of the people and places the Dude finds himself interacting with.
And your reaction to the characters is fully intended, particularly Walter.
Finally, the Dude does win in the end, and it's a big part of the film's theme. The Dude doesn't really want much out of life, and his gentle, easy-going nature, contrasted with the intense, intensely-unhappy people that surround him, is meant to show that his way of life is the better one. The reason he can go through all he goes through at the end, and be happy, is that his happiness comes from within, and no one can take it away from him.
But, comedy is extremely subjective, and if you didn't get the joke, you didn't get the joke. Explaining it won't make it funny. I won't tell you you aren't allowed to like it.
...Dislike it. Dang, we need edit buttons for these.
@Spectral Time: I can somewhat see that, though it doesn't change the fact that the movie pretty much promised a lot, with all those plot threads it opened, and then decided not to deliver on them, turning itself into a giant Shaggy Dog Story.
In a movie like, say, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, this works because every scenario is purposefully ludicrous and there's no real drama in it. You know that you're supposed to just laugh at the individual situations and not take them seriously, nor consider them a part of any bigger scheme. But here, it's all presented as actual drama (even if drenched in black comedy), and makes you think this will all add up to one big epic climax, closing up all the loose plot threads... and then it just doesn't. To me, this was a considerable letdown.
This directly relates to the issue of the Dude not winning. Somewhere early in the movie, a plot thread is brought up with the Dude having limited time to pay his rent. Throughout the entire movie, I was hoping that somewhere near the end some kind of happy happenstance will take place where he will, in one way or another, get at least enough money to repair all of the damage in his house and pay the rent. But nope, he ultimately ends up with even LESS than he started. And the rent is still not paid! So is he going to end up on the streets now? This doesn't sound like a victory to me...
Well, it's also a parody of convoluted Film Noir mysteries, which also often open lots of threads but only focus on the main one. And, well, the Dude, like the noir hero he empathetically isn't, still gets his parlor scene where he explains the whole plot and how it all fits together.
Yeah, the Dude's position might not be quite secure, but he's okay with it. The Dude Abides. Whether he's in his home or on the street, he'll be just as happy with his position. And that's okay. Besides, if he's been unemployed for a while, he'll probably come up with something. All we can do is take his own word for the fact that he's getting by, and that's enough for him.
Having plot threads that go nowhere is a Coen Brothers staple. It\'s mostly just a question of whether they\'ll play it for drama (Blood Simple, No Country for Old Men) or laughs (The Big Lebowski, Burn After Reading), so if you don\'t sit down expecting that, you\'ll be unpleasantly surprised.
Personally, for all the acclaim this movie gets, I feel like it\'s one of their weaker efforts. It\'s too low-key to be a madcap comedy like Burn After Reading, so John Goodman bellowing at the top of his lungs every scene he\'s in comes across as annoying rather than just part of the general atmosphere. But it doesn\'t take itself seriously enough to be a compelling drama, either. It\'s the worst of both boring and obnoxious. If you want a film that hits a lot of the same beats, but better, I\'d pick The Nice Guys (not a Coen Brothers movie, but still).
I\'m going to echo the point about it being The Coen Bros. Lack of clear closure, protagonists not winning, and seemingly random plot tangents are common features of their films. Unless it\'s Bridge of Spies.
I\'m not sure I\'d categorize The Big Lebowski as a weaker effort from them so much as simply an overexposed one. I\'ve definitely seen it enough times I\'d rather rewatch Fargo or Burn After Reading
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