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Big screen blind spot: 'The Big Lebowski'

February 04, 2013|By Kate Bernot, @kbernot | RedEye

Once in a while, a movie slips under your radar. For about, oh, 20 years. In 'Big-screen blind spot,' we sit down with those 'classic' movies everybody but us has seen and give them the nostalgia critic treatment.

Confession: Until this week, I had never seen ‘The Big Lebowski,’ the endlessly quotable, cult classic 1998 Coen brothers film. 

Had I seen it in 1998 at the age of 10:  Damn, am I glad I didn’t. While I probably would have found it funny (“That guy’s peeing on the carpet!”), it takes a post-college, adult perspective to really appreciate the character details. White Russians, bowling leagues, Creedence tapes—there’s no way I would have grasped the cultural references, to say nothing of the drug references. I also probably would have found The Dude weirder and less sympathetic than we’re meant to. I am proud to say, though, that I still would have dug the soundtrack.

Now: How I made it through college with the friends that I had without seeing this movie is beyond me. I think I had absorbed enough of it through osmosis that I could laugh along with each mention of “It ties the room together” without actually having to admit that I’d never seen it. Watching it now, as a real, living-on-my-own adult, I think I have a lot more respect for The Dude than I would have in college. Sure, he wears clear jelly sandals and has a disturbing collection of patterned shorts, but it’s impossible not to root for a guy whose goal in life is to bowl and be left to his own devices. For giving unambitious but loyal schlubs everywhere a true screen idol, I salute you, Jeffrey Lebowski.

Must be noted: Chicago has decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana for recreational use. The Dude abides.

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