The New Republic: Opinion- Jeet Heer: ‘Why Film Critics Were Blind To The Big Lebowski’s Brilliance’


Source: The New Republic– The Dude ( played by Jeff Bridges ) on one of his marijuana trips 

Source: This piece was originally posted at The New Democrat

I sort of look at The Big Lebowski as a parody of hipsters as a movie that makes fun of hipsterism and sends America the message that this is what can happen to you when you don’t grow up and completely dissolve your yourself from society. The Dude ( played by the great Jeff Bridges ) is a middle age hippie radical from the 1960s who still believes it’s 1968 or something. Well, when White Russians are your main beverage and you don’t seem to drink anything else during the day, except when you’re at the grocery store drinking out of a carton of milk ( which did happen in the movie ) the world can pass you by because your brain lacks the braincells to keep up with everyday life. Same thing when you smoke pot on a regular basis. Not that I’m against legalizing pot, I just wouldn’t recommend that people smoke it several times a day. Love Snickers bars, but I make sure that I eat other things as well. Like potato chips.

The Big Lebowski is a movie about hipsters and hipsterism and people who see hipsters as losers and bums and hipsterism as a loser lifestyle for bums. The hipster outsiders played by Jeff Bridges, as ( The Dude ) John Goodman, ( another great comedian as Walter ) and Steve Buscemi. ( As Donnie ) Who are looked down upon but perhaps seem useful even in a limited way by the successful establishment, the winners in Los Angeles in 1991, or at leas some of them. David Huddleston, ( as the successful Jeffrey Lebowski ) Phillip Hoffman, ( as Brandt ) and Julianne Moore. ( As the radical 1960s feminist Maude Lebowski )

And the movie turns into a private detective crime story/soap opera where the Jeff Lebowski claims his trophy wife who is young enough to be his granddaughter, not just daughter, ( played by Tara Reid ) is kidnapped and believes The Dude is useful here in trying to bring is trophy wife back to him. The theory being that the people who supposedly kidnapped Bunny ( played by Tara Reid ) are also hipster/losers and The Dude can work with them speaks their language and so-forth and bring the girl back to her husband.

The problem that Mr. Lebowski, has is that The Dude is not as dumb as he looks. Sure! He’s missing brain cells from his constant pot and alcohol consumption, but he’s smart enough to know when he’s being played and when someone is lying to him. Of three hipsters in the movie who are all friends and very close to each other, The Dude is the only one who figures out early in the story that Bunny, was never kidnapped. How did Dude put it? “There was never any real kidnapping. Bunny kidnapped herself.” He figures this out after the first attempt to payoff the kidnappers with a million dollar ransom fails. And The Dude tells his buddies that the girl kidnapped herself.

Dude explains why he believes that with the girl being a trophy wife who owes money all over town who s simply using her grandfather, I mean rich old husband, to finance her expensive lifestyle and to pay off her pimps. The fake kidnapping was about getting a million dollars from Mr. Lebowski to pay the girl and her friends off. Except for maybe her pimps, Bunny was completely safe the entire movie.

And then the rich 1960s radical feminist daughter Maude ( played by Julianne Moore ) comes into the story, because her father gave Dude one of her valuable rugs. If you’re familiar with the great 1970s CBS sitcom Maude, Maude Lebowski is not that different from Maude Findlay ( played by Bea Arthur ) except that Maude Findlay loves men and Maude Lebowski, I believe at least comes off as a man-hating lesbian, not just as a radial feminist. Maude comes into the story because again her father gives away her rug to The Dude and she wants it back. And sends her thugs to Dude’s apartment to steal it from him.

Bunny is the real problem in the story, as well as having two main characters with the last name Lebowski, because she’s a former ( perhaps current prostitute ) and not just gold digger who owes her pimps money and her pimp wants his money back and sends his thugs over to Lebowski’s place to get his money back. The mistake that Jackie Treehorn ( played by Ben Gazzara ) and his thugs make other than breaking and entering into a private home without permission, is that that break into the wrong Lebowki’s home. The Dude lives in a fair small apartment and probably doesn’t have 20 bucks on him, let alone million or whatever Bunny owes. The rich Lebowski lives in a mansion.

Again, I kind of see this movie as the establishment in society ( however you want to define that ) taking on hipsters and perhaps using this movie as a lesson to young people and saying this is what happen when you don’t finish school and don’t seem to care about anything in life other than having a good time and living one day at a time. The problem that the so-called winners have is that the hipsters, the bums, the losers, come out on top. The Dude and his buddy Walter, figure out the the kidnapping never happened and was simply just a lie and they fend off and so-called kidnappers and the good guys come through in the ninth and win the game.

This is one of the funniest movies you ever possibly ever see and a represents the 1990s very well as what it is which is a great decade for movies and American life in general and I believe the best comedy from that decade.

About Erik Schneider

Full-time blogger on a multiple ray of topics and subjects, because of multiple interests.
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