It’s a cult classic, and the origin of several memes. So I buckled down and got around watching it.
I admit to being quite let down by what I had imagined was a fantastic movie. It had unique characters, but none of them piqued my interest. The flurry of new characters also kept me wondering what on earth was going on. It was reminiscent of Guy Ritchie’s Snatch and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, but it didn’t have the same dark humour that those two films were bursting at the seams with. The ending was also pretty mediocre, and left me feeling really wanting. There was nothing conclusive, just a dull monologue by the narrator, this time in first person POV.
But, beyond the trippy dream sequences and the unappetising plot, there’s the grounded performance of Jeff Bridges. He was fantastic as the Dude, and it even managed to earn a twinge of sympathy for his character’s misfortunes. I have a large ambivalence about the Dude’s circumstances, in the belief that the movie can be encapsulated by the saying ‘making a mountain out of a molehill’. But Bridges made the Dude feel relatable, and that’s something to commend.
Walter, the Jewish Vietnam War veteran, is someone I feel more sympathy for. He may be crude, unfriendly, violent, and obsessive over the silliest things, but I think the film was guiding us towards the idea that the war turned him that way. Everyone suffers in the aftermath of war, in myriad ways and to varying degrees. The contrast with Bunny is stark; a possible hint at the distaste for the new generation, for spitting on the sacrifices of the older generation. Or it could well be a mere reflection of society, where the generation gap will always create such friction.
In the end, I find myself appreciating the messages, intended or not, more so than the plot or the characters. It’s fine to watch on a lazy afternoon, but falls apart at scrutiny.