The Mojo Movie Review of The Big Lebowski
My girlfriend and I went to a drive in theater the other week and saw a double feature:
- Monty Python and the Holy Grail
- The Big Lebowski
The Monty Python movie was, of course, as brilliant now as it was back then. But when The Dude showed up on screen, I realized I had not seen it since it first came out.
I’m going to assume you’ve seen it. If not, beware of spoilers.
So, there it was, up on the big screen again, and I only vaguely remembered it and had no idea what was going to happen, so it was like watching it for the first time all over again. Apparently, this is one of those movies you either love, or hate. But unfortunately I didn’t get to see the whole thing.
About a quarter of the way through my girlfriend was curled up in her seat, eyes closed. I assumed she was asleep, but she wasn’t. She was tuning the movie out.
“Are you okay?” I finally asked.
“Did you want to go?”
“Do you?” she asked.
“If you’re watching the movie, it’s fine.” She curled up again.
“We can go,” I told her.
“Of course. I take it you’re not enjoying it.”
“This is the worst movie I have ever seen,” she said.
And with that, we left.
Now me, I was totally absorbed because the characters are so completely fleshed out and interesting. The acting is superb. The story extremely quirky, just like I like a story, with all sorts of bizarre twists and turns that keep me guessing all the way through. But I had no idea how it ends.
So, last night, I finally broke down and bought it and watched it again, because it bugged me that I didn’t remember how it all turned out. And I’m glad I did, and I’m glad I bought it instead of rented it, because this really is one of those movies that you either love or hate, and unlike my girlfriend, I love it — and I’ll watch it again.
Some of the things that really caught me by surprise is how the story actually lets us, the viewer, in on some secrets during the movie. It literally stops the story at least twice and says, “Hey, look, contrary to what the characters believe, this is what is really going on.” It’s like the story winks at us and says, “Watch how this messes with the characters.”
Normally this would never work. It would ruin a story. But not this story, because due to all the twists and turns and confusion that the characters are going through, it’s a relief that we’re let in on a couple of the major secrets.
And it’s safe to say that none of the characters really know what’s going on. That’s a fun takeaway and one I hope to remember in my own writing.
I found it fascinating that they pulled this off so well. It’s also fascinating that The Dude has most of it figured out at the very beginning, though not quite, but as the story unfolds he doubts it and starts believing other scenarios, only to find out he was almost right all along.
And a note about the characters: I found them so fully realized that it was easy to suspend my disbelief despite some of their over-the-top actions or dialog. And some of the characters who you think are going to be major players turn out to be very minor, and some of the minor characters turn out to actually be major. And it’s all okay, because the story itself is so well crafted.
And so it’s no shock that, in the end, The Dude abides, and also does the movie, even after all these years.