So wrong it’s right.

Wally directs me to this movie, a Lebowski-meets-He-Man spoof which, despite its utter disregard for any sort of character consistency, is an astouding example of what obsession with The Big Lebowski can do to you. I didn’t actually laugh out loud when I watched it — it was more of a slackjawed kind of a thing — but I was deeply amused, perhaps painfully so, because of how close to home it strikes.
Granted, Lebowski is among my favorite films, and I am wont to quote it from time to time, but. But. Even I am rubbed the wrong way when it’s quoted with too much college-frat-like frequency and without need, a sort of desperate attempt to prove one’s coolness through pop-culture referencing. We’re all guilty of it to some extent — this is what young people do, right? — but heedless excess in this realm is definitely not cool, especially when you’re sober.
Lebowski has something akin to canonical status on Putz, where it’s pretty much the hall movie — it was within that circle that it had particular currency for me, and its references were intermittent and largely subtle, just inserted in conversation without undue attention, something communicated below the surface, a kind of part-of-the-club thing. Dumb? Probably. But still lots of fun.
At Random, the common references drew from Lebowski, Gilliam’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and Fight Club, and were more overt, some sort of competition to see who would recognize the quote, who could replicate the dialogue with the greatest accuracy, &c. But this stemmed largely from Rodin-Riad interactions, which explains the whole competitive nature of the thing.
Incidentally, are you aware of the fact that The Big Lebowski is loosely based on (or, perhaps more accurately, is a sort of modern homage to) the classic film noir The Big Sleep? Now there is an unarguably great film. You can squabble about the Coens’ trippy concoction (which is chock full of fodder for serious analysis and criticism, but admittedly somewhat silly), but don’t try and tell me The Big Sleep ain’t just about one of the best bits of screenwriting out there. Have you heard dialogue like that in a film lately?


9 thoughts on “So wrong it’s right.

  1. The amazing thing is that many people I know who love the film have absolutely no conception of where it connects with The Big Sleep. Some of them looked at me dumbfounded when I mentioned Raymond Chandler. But, oh, the sense of familiarity when you see Lebowski (the non-dude) sitting by the fire with a shawl covering his legs, his wheelchair… *shiver*

  2. P.S. The reason that The Big Sleep is so beautifully written is that it’s a product of one of our favorite Southern drunks, Slick Willie Faulkner. Legend has it that, confounded by the chauffeur’s demise, he called up Raymond Chandler for help in determining the culprity. Unfortunately, Chandler didn’t know who’d-dun-it either.

  3. …although you have to admit that even the Fear and Loathing “competitions” were a substantial improvement over my freshman year Pulp Fiction obsession.

  4. Don’t I know it! The first time I saw the film, I sat there saying “woah!” when Faulkner’s name came up in the titles as one of the writers. I’ve heard about the unexplained murder, either from you or Wally — what a great story that is. Of course, when you see either film for the first time, you know why there was such confusion: I had to watch each film a couple of times before I had a sense of what was going on.
    The book is a great read — I picked it up used a couple of years ago and blew right through it. Marvelous stuff.

  5. Woah! Some simultaneous commenting going on here. That previous comment was a response to Sherv.
    Wahby: also agreed. I almost mentioned it in the entry, in fact, but I figured it was best to not bring it up at all. But, there you go again, not knowing when to stop… 😉

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