Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Black Sheep presents: The Belanger Brothers vs. The Coen Brothers


So when we talked about FARGO, I mentioned that it was one of the most overrated movies of all time. THE BIG LEBOWSKI is the other one. I always compare this movie to SCARFACE. Wait for it. SCARFACE and THE BIG LEBOWSKI have some great quotes to them. Some of the most quotable movies ever. But that's all they've got. When I talk to fans of the movie and tell them how much I don't care for it, their usual response is something like: "The Dude abides." I do enjoy the two John's (Goodman and Turturro) in this movie. I think they made their scenes entertaining. But I don't care to watch some useless layabout strive to do nothing and fail at that (and life) for two hours. The Matt does not abide this. The Dude is up there with Ernest (Ernest Goes to Camp) and Freddie (Freddie Got Fingered) as one of the stupidest characters of all time.

Yes, to think about The Dude for any lengthy period of time would lead you to think he is a waste of space. Coen characters are often those without voices though. You might argue that they don't deserve voices but in this day when everybody has a voice online, why shouldn't The Dude? That said, I don't feel that THE BIG LEBOWSKI ages well. I am not laughing as hard as I did when I first saw it but maybe the drugs I'm taking aren't as strong as they were when I first saw it either. This is a Coen Brothers stoner flick, which is to say I guess, an artsy stoner flick and I think, once the buzz wears off and the smoke has cleared, there may not be so much art to speak of waiting. Premise-wise, it is still a hilarious mistaken identity caper.

Why shouldn't the Dude have a voice? Because he doesn't want one. He wants nothing. He just wants to drink white russians and bowl. Which, sounds like a decent existence to some of this movie's cult following, but is a waste of space both in this world and on the DVD shelf. You call it a hilarious mistaken identity caper. Why? They have the same name. Are these gangsters from FARGO? Can they not think a little harder and realize that this might not be the right guy? I once lived on the same street as another Matt Belanger. That Matt Belanger has a blemish on his credit which showed up on my credit report. You know how long it took to clear up? 5 minutes. The only reason these storylines work is because the Coen Brothers live in a cartoon world where you don't need actual thought. I feel like Beavis and Butthead have not only been allowed to make movies but are considered brilliant for doing it. I feel like when these guys aren't directing they're just banging their heads against a wall and calling it brainstorming!!

Isn't that part of the point though? The Dude wants nothing to do with anything. He just wants to bowl and get stupid peacefully but life will not leave him alone. Sometimes life shines its light on those who would rather stay in the dark and that is what the Coen's have done with The Dude. He is a reluctant hero, which I suppose can be off putting to someone like yourself, who likes his heroes to smile, show up and want to be there, but that just isn't always the way life works. Yes, the plot could have been nipped in the very beginning but The Dude keeps it going by demanding compensation for his poor pissed-on rug. I agree that the Coen's take some elaborate liberties in this one but this doesn't come from banging their head on the wall ... "bonging" their heads against the wall is more likely.

I have no problem with a reluctant hero or one that doesn't smile. Some of the best heroes never smile. Jack Bauer. Batman. Bilbo Baggins. I have a problem with a hero that doesn't think. I have a problem with calling him a hero at all. This movie doesn't even deserve this much attention.

I don't think The Dude would want to be called a hero either but here we are. And you may noth think it deserves it but it's gotten this much attention and then some. THE BIG LEBOWSKI remains a favorite amongst Coen Brother fans. Can they all really be wrong?



Branden said...

I recently reviewed this movie. I don't like stoner comedies. This one has some genius moments in it. It's not a perfect movie.

Some people think that this movie is masterpiece. I don't think so.

Black Sheep said...

It's far from being a masterpiece but it's also far from being "Half Baked" as well.