6. “…Like That Camel Fucker in Iraq”
Speaking of Saddam, the film’s time period is absolutely perfect for its set of characters, including the war veteran (Walter), the peace abiding hippie (the Dude) and, almost most importantly, the societal and social rebels (the Nihilists).
It’s impossible to talk Lebowski 101 without talking about the War in Iraq and how that crisis, in whatever way, shape or form mirrors the Dude’s own dilemmas in the plot, regarding his soiled carpet and the Big Lebowski’s missing wife. Although the connections are hard to draw for some, they are there and the way that The Dude handles it all – through constantly abiding – is worth not only applauding but replicating when situations of aggression come up again in the future.
Oh, and I almost forgot to mention everything that happens with his car.
7. Rugs and Rug Pissers
Similar to what differentiates The Dude from the nihilists, the idea of cherishing something as simple as the rug you step on every single day is what really separates The Dudes of this world from the rug pissers.
Following his grocery store escapade at the movie’s onset, The Dude comes home to find his home broken into by a pair of thugs who proceed to rough him up, throw him into his toilet and claim that he owes money to porn-king Jackie Treehorn. After The Dude famously delivers the “obviously you’re not a golfer” line to Treehorn Thug #1 (played by the same guy who plays Jacob in “Lost” and Rita’s psycho ex-husband in “Dexter”), you get a sense the story is more about a material item and one man’s pursuit to get it back; rather, it is taking the moral high ground.
The Dude’s motto stays consistent from this opening scene to the very last: if some asshole wants to piss on my rug, so be it. I have friends, a hobby and enough pot to keep me happy. Creedence tapes and bowling cassette tapes don’t hurt either.
8. Shut the Fuck Up, Donny
I’ve heard this yelled at so many dudes not named Donny that I think the name Donny may grow to be extinct by the time my child is, or the opposite will happen and everyone I know will name their son Donny. Regardless, I was torn between using this or one of the many lines from the homework scene with Larry Sellers, because both are such iconic Walter scenes that are quoted so often. I ultimately chose to go with this one because it’s just used so much more often in daily speech without us even realizing we’re referencing “The Big Lebowski.” Even if we aren’t using Donny’s name, the line “Shut the Fuck Up, Person X” still counts as a reference
The other week my friend and I were discussing what line is most repeated from the movie. I said the ‘Nam-Bowling rant from Walter (extremely biased) and he said it was “the Dude abides.” We went at it for a while (about 45 minutes) into a third party bashed our skulls together and helped us realize that “Shut the Fuck Up, Donny” is used at least every hour of every day somewhere in America, and quite possibly the world. Although there’s no legitimate way of proving this, I believe it to be true.
Plus I take comfort in thinking about some little Chinese kid yelling at his friend, “Shut the Fuck Up, Li.”
9. “…Once they’ve seen Karl Hungus”
The private eye, Da Fino, who is follows The Dude around the entire movie is yet another shining example of who we don’t want to end up being in this crazy, mixed up world with all its ins and outs. As The Dude deflects him outside of his humble abode – “stay away from my fucking lady friend” – Da Fino creeps in closer talking about what he’s been up to in the shadows all this time. Their exchange leads to one of my favorite lines in the whole film, when Da Fino talks about returning Bunny Lebowski home to her real family – the Knutsens – in the Midwest. Gazing over a picture of Vaughn Knutsen (Bunny Lebowski) half-baked, while still trying to come to terms with being the father of Maude’s child, The Dude asks “how ya gonna keep 'em down on the farm once they've seen Karl Hungus?”
Although not considered a gem by most, this line really proves The Dude is into that “whole brevity thing” as his prowess for knocking down the one-liners is never more effective. Karl Hungus, of course, is Nihilist No. 1 as well as being a porn star.
Everything comes full circle in The Dude’s world and in life. It’s not pretty; it’s not perfect, but it does end up working out.
10. Stick By Your Friends
The Big Lebowski has united fans worldwide. They come together annually at Lebowski Fests to exchange their favorite lines and dress up like the movies characters. I believe the film’s enduring legacy always has been, and always will be, about keeping your friends close and always sticking by their side no matter what the situation. The Dude, Walter and Donny all exemplify this and as corny as it sounds are three of the best friends ever to be caught on film. They enjoy bowling and each other’s company and that’s all there is to it.
There are a lot of complexities to the case The Dude is trying to solve and a lot of outrageous outbursts along the way, but The Dude takes it in stride because he has “friends like these” to stimulate him in conversations about everything from Lenin to Jesus Quintana. Although their presence, at least Walter’s, bogs him down along the way, The Dude loves his friends and ultimately that’s what keeps him going.
Even as the two pay homage to Donny, following his sudden heart attack, you can tell The Dude really cares. The hug he shares with Walter at the end gets me every time. It’s a touching moment in a movie that isn’t supposed to strike an emotional cord. Although it you are left bellyaching from all the laughter, The Dude keeps everybody’s mind limber by maintaining his friendships and upholding his beliefs through all the drama.
As the stranger notes at the film’s beginning, “sometimes, there’s a man, well, he’s the man for his time and place.”
Cheers to you Dude, for making it to 15 years of and taking it easy for all of us sinners. Finals or not, you’re a champion in my book.