In 1998 when the movie The Big Lebowski first came out, my father, who considered himself an intellectual, raved about this movie. So I went to see it on his recommendation but couldn’t figure out what he saw in it.

Now the star, Jeff Bridges, is in a new movie and people are again talking with great reverence about his role as “The Dude” in The Big Lebowski, which some critics rate in their top comedies of the past 25 years. My son even had this movie in his collection, so I borrowed it, thinking if its popularity spans that many generations, I should give it another chance.

I watched it. I still don’t get it. At the end, when “the stranger” (Sam Elliot) who begins the movie with his narration returns to the bowling alley for another sarsaparilla and concludes the narration, I decided to sketch him so at least I had something to show from spending two hours with these morons.

Is it a guy thing? Is this a movie that makes guys feel good because they’re not as bad of losers? Do people really think the Dude’s pothead approach to life known as “The Dude abides,” was worthy of worship (there is actually a church based on his character, called Dudeism)?

I loved the Coen Brothers’ movie Fargo (mostly because of Francis McDormand) but even she couldn’t save their most recent movie, Burn After Reading, which, after renting it accidentally, I thought had to be the most pointless movie I’ve ever seen.

If only the millions of dollars spent on making stupid movies (much of which goes to already obscenely wealthy movie stars) could be spent on feeding people, funding education, the arts, or making the world a better place.

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Category:
Faces, Ink and watercolor wash, Life in general, Movies, Painting, People, Sketchbook Pages
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Join the conversation! 21 Comments

  1. Jana, there is just a lot of stuff that I don’t “get” these days. This movie is only the tip of the ice berg for me:)

    Stay dry!

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  2. I’ve never seen the movie, but I agree with you about Burn After Reading. I must say, I like a GOOD stupid, pointless, FUNNY movie (when I don’t want to think, just veg out on the couch) 🙂

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    • That’s a good way to put it. It’s pointless, stupid, but funny enough when you’re in veg out on the couch mode. At least Burn After Reading had some good eye candy — I loved seeing Brad Pitt as that ditzy trainer. He was hilarious and absolutely perfect! Jana

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  3. It might be a guy thing. I watched TBL with my husband last year, and while I admired the surreal scene with the legs and bowling balls, I frankly was not bowled over. He still loves the big L.

    Dudette!

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    • Love the pun! It does seem that the Dude touches something in many people. Don’t know what…. but I’m sure many people would be just as confused by the things I enjoy. Jana

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  4. Jana…I think this is one of your best works! Love it!

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  5. Your last paragraph–AMEN!
    Great sketch!

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  6. Haha…ditto, Libby Fife! Great sketch! The obscene amount of wealth in Hollywood disturbs me greatly. Seems like we could think of better things to spend our money on!

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    • Yep. I feel like one of those old codgers sometimes, wondering what’s happened to the world that values are so turned upside down that actors make bajillions and school funding and health care are ignored. Jana

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  7. Hi Jan
    Never have seen the movie or any movie in years.
    But I guess as long as there are people to spend their money for over priced tickects to see movies , they will continue to make them.
    But I agree, way to much money being spent all the way around. Could go to better places.

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  8. Hi, i HAVE seen the movie (along with Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?) and here is “the deal”: in Los Angeles, EVERYONE is into MONEY, POWER, SEX. This movie has a hero who is NOT into money or powe or sex– which makes him an anti-hero. THAT is why men love this character. Most men spend their whole lives, fighting for respect, fighting to win a wife, fighting to get ahead. Not the dude. He is like the zen monk who gives up everything, and thus, can lose nothing. No one can own you, if you own nothing yourself. Also, this move has many LA landmarks. It has a detective theme. It has violence, nudity and crudeness. It has inside-jokes. THAT is why men love this movie.

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  9. PS the movie is ABOUT the meaningless of life- i.e. the nihilists, marriage of convenience, a fake kidnapping, guys who are unemployed and spend their time bowling. The Vietnam vet spends all of his time comparing everything to Vietnam, never moving on with his life; Donny dies for no reason; even the dude is beaten up for no reason after a case of mistaken identity… This whole movie is part of a genre of movies- the hero is a loser- much like Woody Allen and his “life is meaningless” philosophy, where the main character is a victim, usually of his ex-wives. As a man, I have spent my who life, trying to make sense of a non-sense world. I had friends who were screwed up by Vietnam. I had a buddy who was talented but unemployed and they got killed by a drunk driver at age 23; I have seen killings and violence for no reason. Thus, the world of The Dude totally resonates with my world. Hope this helps.

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    • Thanks for your wonderful explanations. It was a favorite movie of my father and my sons. I guess from your explanations I can see why guys like it. I hadn’t made the zen connection before–no more striving and grasping for things…a worthy goal…oops, the goal of zen is meant to be goal-lessness. But you know what I mean. Jana

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      • Hi Jana– Yep, exactly! My brother, Steve, the high achiever, recently became a buddhist– no, he’ll never achieve the “zen-ness” of The Dude, but he has realized, after 60 years, that his L.A. mentality of “bigger better smarter faster” isn’t always the best path to take!

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        • That’s great that he figured it out and still has time to enjoy a more serene lifestyle. I was born in Santa Monica and still have family there and visit every couple of years. I love being there for the ocean but find it disturbing the way everyone is so focused on appearances. Northern California, especially the Berkeley area is a more down to earth place. Jana

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  10. PPS the dude is from MY generation- the 1960’s– like many of my friends, he is a former anti-war protestor (one of the “Seattle Seven”) who has given up– the movie was set in the early 90’s during the first Iraq War, and for a reason: by the early 1990’s many of us (former counter culture) had given up our hopes and dreams (the sixties was all about “Peace Love Dove” and Age of Aquarius, a new dawning of awareness). The Dude is in contrast to the Yuppies, those 80’s icons who drove BMW’s and made money and had no kids and were seen as the OPPOSITE of the hippy generation. The Dude has seen his ideals fail, but he okay with it. He lives in the present moment. He is apolitical, even telling his buddy (the Vietnam vet) to shut up: politics has failed, and the country has moved on. So, The Dude is an icon, an archetype, an “everyman”– much like Willie Loman in Death of a Salesman. He is the disillusioned white man, who now has nowhere to go but down.

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  11. Here’s where you miss the point completely. TBL is amazingly funny but you are a bunch of middle aged women. Everyone (including girls) from my college years loved this movie and we would watch it regularly. The humor however, is a bit more subtle than your crazy Sex in the City humor. You could use a White Russian to loosen up a bit. The Dude abides.

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