Released in 1998 as the followup to the immensely successful Fargo, Joel and Ethan Coen’s The Big Lebowski is considered by many to be one of the best comedies of all time. It’s hard not to see why, as the movie’s not only full of amazingly funny moments and memorable characters, but it’s one of those movies that you noticed more and more about with each time you watch it.
Here’s just a sampling of some of our favorite things about this bonafide classic.
1) The Dude
Jeff Bridges has had plenty of memorable performances in his long career, but none of them quite compare to just how much he comes to embody Jeffrey “The Dude” Lebowski. Between his drab clothes (apparently all provided by Bridges himself), his constant repeating of lines said by other characters, and his almost perpetual confusion at the situation he finds himself in, The Dude is one of cinema’s most memorable slackers.
2) White Russians
If you can make it through the movie without wanting one of The Dude’s signature drinks, you’re clearly a stronger-willed person than I am. Fun fact: despite often being made with milk at most bars, a true White Russian is made with half-and-half.
They believe in nothing, and their constant need to remind everyone about this is hilarious. Two of them are even played by renowned Swedish character actor Peter Stormare, and Flea, the bassist of The Red Hot Chili Peppers.
At the end of a long, stressful day, who doesn’t love hitting the lanes, wearing ridiculous shoes, and knocking over some pins? Unless you’re like me and always manage to find the gutter.
Every yin has their yang, and so The Dude has Walter Sobchak. He’s as volatile as The Dude is chill, as paranoid as The Dude is carefree, and as deluded as The Dude is grounded. Full of absurd stories and brilliantly played by John Goodman at the top of his game, the movie wouldn’t be the same without Walter.
6) The Dream Sequence
During one of the several times where The Dude is knocked unconscious in the movie, he has a dream where he performs an elaborate, cheesy dance routine to win the attention of Julianne Moore’s Maude. With him clad in the outfit worn by an actor in a porn movie seen earlier in the film, and her dressed up as a golden viking, it’s as surreal as it is funny.
7) Sam Elliot
The actor with the world’s smoothest voice narrates the film’s opening, and then shows up in the bowling alley as The Stranger, who may or may not be the narrator in real life. Either way, his voice and sage advice for The Dude are always welcome parts of the movie.
The Dude says “Man” as a descriptor for somebody 147 times throughout the movie, at a rate of about 1.5 times per minute. Oh MAN…
9) Hilarious Censorship
One of Walter’s more infamous lines is regularly changed to “This is what happens when you find a stranger in the Alps” when the movie is shown on broadcast TV. This is never not funny.
10) “The Dude Abides.”
Fun fact: the most-quoted line from The Big Lebowski is actually a reference to Ecclesiastes 1:4, “One generation passes away, and another generation comes: but the earth abides forever.” It’s a reference to none of how the movie’s craziness has any effect on The Dude.
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11) The Big Lebowski Himself
The character who would actually be the lead of this film if it were made by anyone but the Coens, Jeffrey “The Big” Lebowski is a curmudgeonly millionaire whose family is constantly trying to get his money. David Huddleston’s performance as the titular character is amazingly dramatic and over the top, with plenty of quotable lines to boot.
The Dude mentions that he was once a roadie for Metallica, and refers to the band as a “bunch of assholes.” The band loved this line so much that guitarist Kirk Hammett has stated they tried to incorporate it into their live shows.
13) The Dude’s Rug
It really ties the room together. Also, it’s mentioned as having been peed on 17 times throughout the movie.
14) The Jesus
John Turturro’s performance as Jesus Quintana (or “The Jesus” as he refers to himself) is so popular that he’s being brought back in the Coens’ upcoming spinoff film Going Places. We’ll see if he threatens any more pandejos when he returns!
15) The Eagles
The Dude hates The Eagles. Like, really hates them. So much so, in fact, that a flamenco version of “Hotel California” is played over Jesus’ introductory scene.
The Big Lebowski’s lovable butler seems to be the only character that actually cares about what happens to The Dude (in fact he’s one of the few that honors the request to simply call him “The Dude.”) It’s a short but sweet performance that serves as a reminder of just what we lost when Philip Seymour Hoffman passed away.
There are a LOT of absurd comments about toes in this movie. Trust me.
The Dude and Walter’s bowling buddy gets no regard at all, not even by the filmmakers. He’s essentially there to sound lost in the middle of his partners’ conversations, only to ultimately die of a heart attack that comes out of nowhere. He’s also routinely told to shut up (which it turns out is because Steve Buscemi’s character in Fargo was such a chatterbox).
19) The Fans
Fans of the film regularly refer to themselves as “Achievers” (after a foundation owned by The Big Lebowski in the film) and often hold late-night screenings of the film where people dress up as characters. How could you not have fun doing that?
Seriously, there is nothing not to love about this movie.