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"Sometimes there's a man — I won't say a hero, 'cause what's a hero? — but sometimes there's a man."
Jeff Bridges stars as a lazy and useless slacker named Jeffrey Lebowski, who prefers to be known as "The Dude". One night, a pair of thugs break into his house, dunk him in the toilet, and pee on his rug, mistaking him for a local millionaire, also named Jeffrey Lebowski (David Huddleston, the eponymous "Big" Lebowski). Said millionaire, who denies compensation for said rug, ends up recruiting the Dude to help in the negotiations for his kidnapped wife, Bunny (Tara Reid), and that's when the plot takes off.
This being a Coen Brothers movie, though, the plot isn't what's important. The driving force of the movie is the various bizarre characters, including:
- Walter Sobchak (John Goodman), Dude's extremely grumpy bowling buddy. Manages to turn every single conversation into a shouting match involving the Vietnam War, and refuses to roll on Shabbos.
- Donny (Steve Buscemi), Dude's other bowling buddy. Walter refuses to explain the plot to him.
- Maude Lebowski (Julianne Moore), daughter of the Big Lebowski, and stepdaughter of Bunny. An eccentric, post-feminist lady whose artwork is commended as strongly vaginal, which she believes inherently bothers men. Classic Femme Fatale and overly aware of it.
- Uli Kunkel, a.k.a. Karl Hungus (Peter Stormare), nihilist, porn star, techno-pop musician, and bad guy. He and his two henchmen/bandmates (one of whom is Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers) love to remind The Dude that they believe in
- Jesus Quintana (John Turturro), rival bowler and pederast. An extraordinarily loathsome man, who serves literally no plot purpose and shows up for only two scenes, but is hilarious enough that he's one of the film's most memorable characters nonetheless. Don't fuck with him.
- The Stranger (Sam Elliott), an odd cowboy who narrates the film (if he isn't losing his train of thought), though unaware that it isn't a western.
- Absurdly Ineffective Barricade: The Dude suffers multiple home invasions, and getting kinda sick of it, starts to nail a piece of wood to the floor and props a chair between it and the door. It is immediately revealed that the door opens outwards instead of inwards. And later in the film, he trips over it.
- Affectionate Parody: The plot is sort of a meandering gonzo take on Raymond Chandler-style noir detective stories, in particular, The Big Sleep. The Coens have produced their fair share of straightforward examples of the genre, so it's definitely an affectionate one.
- The Alleged Car: The Dude's Torino increasingly becomes this. It wasn't exactly a royal chariot to begin with, but over the course of the film it is stolen and trashed by a fifteen year old, used as a toilet, crashed by the Dude, beaten with a crowbar, and finally set on fire.
- All Germans Are Nazis: The Jewish Walter automatically assumes that the Germans are Nazis. When the Dude insists that they're nihilists, Walter notes that that would be worse, since "say what you want about the tenets of National Socialism, at least it's an ethos." In the end, he calls one of the Germans an antisemite, so he apparently hasn't given up on the idea.
Walter: Fucking Germans. Nothing ever changes. Fucking Nazis.
- Angry Black Man: The taxi driver who kicks the Dude out of his cab for hating The Eagles. "Fuck you, man! You don't like my fucking music, get your own fucking cab!"
- Anti-Hero: Dude and Walter.
- Ashes to Crashes: Walter misjudges the wind, and ends up pouring out the ashes of Donny all over the Dude.
- A Simple Plan: "The best part of my plan is... its simplicity."
Walter: No, we can't do that Dude. That fucks up our plan.
- Ass Shove: The Jesus threatens to do this to Walter with Walter's Colt .45 if Walter ever tries jamming a gun in the Jesus's face.
- Babies Ever After: "I happen to know that there's a Little Lebowski on the way." Weirdly subverted, though, since Maude makes it clear that she wants nothing to do with the Dude after the child is born, and just wanted him to impregnate her so she wouldn't have to run into the father of her child everywhere she went. It Makes Just As Much Sense in Context.
- Badass: Walter, especially where he nails a nihilist in the chest with a bowling bag full of bowling balls, one-hit punches another with a sword, and bites another's ear off.
- Berserk Button: Plenty to go around.
- Walter flips right the fuck out when a bowling opponent steps over the line and refuses to acknowledge his error. Cross Walter on a rules violation, and you'll stare down the barrel of a gun.
- Walter takes his Judaism very seriously, even though he converted for his ex-wife. Getting him to break the laws of Shabbas will earn you an ear full.
- Walter completely snaps when trying to intimidate a teenager he suspects has stolen the ransom money by smashing up his car, screaming, "This is what happens when you fuck a stranger in the ass!"
- Whenever Walter gets his dander up, he inevitably finds some way to link it back to some obviously unresolved issues with his tour in Vietnam. In fact, he finds an excuse to mention 'nam in just about any situation.
- The cab driver freaks out and bodily throws the Dude out of his cab just for insulting The Eagles.
- Better Than It Sounds/Film: Stoner fails at solving a not-mystery with his violent buddy. In addition, pederast. Also, bowling.
- To be fair, the stoner does actually solve the mystery, he's just a little too late to stop the.. Ah, human paraquat.
- Briefcase Full of Money: which turned out to not have money in it at all. Perhaps someone should have opened it. Walter replaces the real one with his undies.
- Broken Record: You see what happens Larry ?!? You see what happens Larry ?!? You see what what happens Larry when you try to fuck a stranger in the ass ?!? You see what happens Larry ?!?...
- Busby Berkeley Number: "Gutterballs". Somewhat justified, the Dude is insanely high at that point.
- Butt Monkey: Donny gets no respect from his friends (especially Walter) when he tries to join in on their conversations. Literally the only time he isn't told to shut the fuck up by Walter, or something similar, is at the end — when he's dying.
- The Cameo: Aimee Mann appears briefly as the fourth member of the Nihilist gang. She contributed a cover of "Viva Las Vegas" for the end credits.
- Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea is the Nihilist who gets his chest caged in by Walter's bowling ball.
- Camp Gay: "Knox Harrington. The video artist." Played by David Thewlis. Who giggles madly for no reason at times, much to the Dude's consternation.
- Candlelit Bath: "Far out, man." Shortly ruined by a nihilist marmot (actually a ferret, but who cares).
- Captain Obvious: Donny, which may be part of the reason why Walter and the Dude ignore him all the time. (ie: "Jeffrey Lebowski? That's your name, Dude!")
- Also, your phone's ringing.
- Thank you, Donny.
- Also, your phone's ringing.
- Cassandra Truth: Walter speculates what really happened throughout the movie and is right every time (except for when he threw Lebowski on the floor, thinking he was pretending to be crippled). No one believes him.
- Except he might have been right about that, too: the Big Lebowski's leg visibly kicks when Walter throws him down. Probably an acting mistake, could be very subtle confirmation of Walter's theory. Which would make Walter correct about absolutely everything.
- He wasn't right about Bunny kidnapping herself, which wasn't his idea anyway. Though he was right that "that's note her toe, dude."
- Catch Phrase: A number, which is a pretty big understatement.
- "We believe in nothing!" — the nihilists
- "Shut the fuck up, Donny." — Walter
- "Am I wrong?" - Walter again
- "The Dude Abides" was only said once, but it quickly caught on with fans of the film.
- Chronically Crashed Car: The Dude's poor car...
- Cluster F-Bomb: The film debuted at 9th and is currently ranked 26th in most instances of the word fuck. Lampshaded by the cowboy.
- Come Alone: Immediately defied by Walter forcing his way into the Dude's car, much to his (and the kidnappers') consternation and panic.
- Comically Missing the Point:
- Maude and the Dude as they watch Karl Hungus's star in a porn movie as a cable repair guy. Maude comments that "the story is ludicrous" and tell Dude that he can imagine where the plot goes. The Dude ventures, "He fixes the cable?"
- At one point, Maude shows up in the Dude's apartment, shrugs off the robe she's wearing and, completely naked, demands "Jeffrey, love me." The Dude's response? To note that she was wearing his robe.
- Cool Car: The Corvette they find during the attempt to extort the boy who stole The Dude's car. "I'd say he's still got about $960-$970,000 left, depending on the options."
- Corrupt Politician: "Jackie Treehorn draws a lot of water in this town. You don't draw shit, Lebowski."
- Crossover: In a recent Stella Artois commercial, The Dude meets Carrie Bradshaw.
- Cut and Paste Note: "The note arrived this morning."
- The Danza: Despite The Dude's seeming similarity to Jeff Bridges, he is actually based on another friend of The Coen Brothers, Jeff "The Dude" Dowd. Both Dowd, Dude, and Bridges are named Jeffrey.
- Deadpan Snarker:
- "It's uh, it's down there somewhere. Lemme take another look."
- "Obviously you're not a golfer."
- Regarding the porn movie Bunny's been in:
Maude: You can guess where it goes from here.
- The Determinator: Walter tends to take things too far...
- Disney Acid Sequence:
- The "Gutterballs" Busby Berkeley Number dream. And see about 2 minutes in for Between My Legs here. "Far out, man."
- Happens earlier, too, when Maude's goons knock The Dude out to take her rug back. It consists of him flying through the air above LA and following Maude on a flying carpet, then suddenly having a bowling ball in his hand and falling to Earth.
- Disproportionate Retribution: Walter threatens to shoot Smokey after he tries to mark it eight when he was over the line.
- Downer Ending: Lebowski keeps the money he stole from a charitable foundation, Donny dies of a heart attack, and the Dude doesn't even get his rug back. But "life goes on, man."
- Bittersweet Ending: The Cowboy argues for this. We hear there's a little Lebowski on the way, albeit one that won't have the Dude's involvement in his upbringing. In addition, Big Lebowski gets traumatized by Walter for his swindle, and the irritating Nihilists won't harass the Dude anymore. And, you know, come what may... "the Dude abides."
- Black Comedy Rape: Jesus. "YOU GOT A DATE WEDNESDAY, BABY!"
- "...until it goes click."
- Dress Hits Floor: And Maude gets loved.
- Drink Order: "Dude will have a White Russian." "Yeah. Got anymore of that good sarsaparilla?"
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: Donny's death is a deliberate subversion of the unwritten rule that nobody ever dies for random or plot-unimportant reasons in Film Noir, or really, any genre except weird comedies. "It's a heart attack." Though, considering the scene in which his death occurs, it may be a Double Subversion.
- Dude, Where's Our Car?: "Say Dude, where is your car?" The title of the movie Dude, Where's My Car? was inspired by this movie.
- El Spanish-O: You can call him "El Duderino", if you're not into the whole brevity thing.
- Erudite Stoner: The Dude. Has "the occasional acid flashback".
- Everything's Worse with Bears: "Sometime you eat the b'ar, and sometimes, well...he eats YOU!"
- Fan Service: Slow-motion bouncing topless women at a beach party, and Julianne Moore painting naked.
- Fan Disservice: The instance where Maude essentially flies in naked, strapped into a rather imposing harness, shrieking and howling and spattering paint. YMMV.
- Fauxlosophic Narration: Parodied; the Stranger tries to present a sage, wise perspective on things, but keeps losing his train of thought.
- Femme Fatale:
- Maude Lebowski. "Jeffrey. Love me."
- Also, Bunny, who offers the Dude a $1,000 blowjob when they first meet.
- Finger in the Mail: The eponymous "Big" Jeffrey Lebowski is sent one of his wife's, Bunny, toes after a botched money exchange. It's later revealed to not be his wife's toe.
- Foot Focus: Bunny's feet are shown quite extensively in a few scenes, with emphasis on the nail polish, and so are the Dude's in the tub. The former's a plot point - her toe is definitely not sawed off.
- Foreshadowing: "You guys are dead in the water." Where do Walter and the Dude take Donny's ashes?
- Freudian Threat: "Tomorrow we come back and we cut off your chonson."
- Friendship Moment: Happens after the last time the Nihilists show up. Donny gets scared and Walter gently reassures him. That's it. Just one quick moment, not particularly touching, but if it weren't for this, Walter's heartfelt eulogy for Donny would seem like it came out of nowhere, seeing as the rest of their interaction in the film is Walter shouting at Donny and telling him to shut the fuck up.
- The Fun in Funeral: "Goddammit, Walter! Everything's a fuckin' travesty with you, man! What was all that shit about Vietnam?"
- Gambit Pileup: Subverted when very little of it ends up mattering.
- Genre Busting: It's a Stoner Flick masquerading as Film Noir, while the narrator insists it's The Western.
- Glorified Sperm Donor: The "glorified" bit is definitely averted. "I don't want the father to be someone I have to see socially, or who will have any interest in raising the child himself."
- Good Is Not Nice: Walter is not a bad guy, all right, but, heavens, he has a way to behave towards Donny or towards people in general...
- Goodnight, Sweet Prince: "We now commit your mortal remains to the bosom of the Pacific Ocean. Good night, sweet prince."
- Gosh Dang It to Heck: Only in TV broadcasts. "Do you see what happens when you find a stranger in the Alps?"
- The TV broadcast version might benefit from the heavy censorship in the scene where the cab driver throws the Dude out of his taxi and shouts, "Get out of my peaceful cab!" which coincides with the scene, the song being played, and also provides a little Hypocritical Humor. A matter of opinion, of course.
- Groin Attack: "I said WE'LL CUT OFF YOUR CHONSON!"
"Ja, maybe we stomp on it and skvoosh it!"
- Gulf War: "Now this here story I'm about to unfold took place back in the early '90s - just about the time of our conflict with Sad'm and the Eye-raqis." It doesn't factor into the setting much, except for Saddam showing up during a hallucination and Walter referencing it in one of his temper tantrums.
- Hair-Trigger Temper: Walter. "For your information, the Supreme Court has roundly rejected prior restraint!" The taxi driver the Dude takes from his escapade to Treehorn's mansion also really doesn't like people badmouthing The Eagles.
- Heterosexual Life Partners: "Fuck it, Dude. Let's go bowling." The last of which was preceded by a manhug.
- Homage: "The Dude abides."
- Also, Lebowski and his family are based on General Sternwood's family from The Big Sleep.
- Humble Goal: "All The Dude wanted was his rug back."
- Hypocritical Humor: Many of the film's ironies can be found in the characters' various hypocrises, for example:
- Maude expresses disapproval of people who have sex only for pleasure or personal gain, without love, and yet only sleeps with The Dude because she wants his seed.
- Walter says pacifism is nothing to hide behind, and yet he's flashing the peace sign when the actual owner of "Larry's" car angrily brandishes hs crow bar at him.
- Jeffrey Lebowski goes off on a massive rant about how The Dude should get a job and make something of himself, and yet is only what he is because he inherited his late wife's money.
- The Dude is noticeably disturbed by the Nihilists' threat to castrate him, to the point of having a drug addled nightmare about it, and yet he non-chalantly threatens to do the same thing to Larry, a fifteen year old boy.
- The Nihilists constantly say that they believe in nothing, yet, at the end they complain that it's not fair that they didn't get any money.
Walter: Fair? Who's the fucking nihilists here you bunch of fucking crybabies?
- I Am Not The Big Lebowski: "You're Mr. Lebowski. I'm The Dude. So that's what you call me."
- I Have Many Names: "Or, you know, Duder, or His Dudeness, or El Duderino, if you're not into the whole brevity thing."
- I Have Your Wife: Bunny, the millionaire Lebowski's wife is kidnapped. Or is she? In fact, it turns out that no, she isn't.
- Informed Ability: In his eulogy, it is mentioned by Walter that Donny loved to surf. This is the only time that hobby comes up in the movie.
- Subverted entirely when it comes to Donny's bowling skills. Watch carefully throughout the film's bowling scenes — The only time Donny misses a strike (and looks visibly perturbed by it) is the scene just before the fight with the nihilists, and his death.
- Insistent Terminology: Walter: "Also, Dude, 'Chinaman' is not the preferred nomenclature. Asian-American, please."
- And Walter promptly subverts it: "The Chinaman is not the issue here!"
- "She's not my special lady, she's my fucking lady friend!"
- I Resemble That Remark:
"Do you have to use so many cusswords?"
Dude: Fuck the Tournament. Fuck you, Walter.
Jackie Treehorn: I deal in publishing. Entertainment. Political advocacy.
- It's the Principle of the Thing: "They peed on your fucking rug." In fact, most of the film revolves around the fact the Dude wants his rug and car back. "That rug really tied the room together."
- Jerkass: The Dude and Walter. However, the nihilists definitely fits.
- And to a lesser extent, everyone else. Jesus and millionaire Big Lebowski in particular.
- Karma Houdini: Walter. He pulled a gun on a man in a bowling alley where everybody knew who he was and destroyed a brand new luxury car, and somehow manages to avoid jail time, or any other form of actual punishment. Also, the Big Lebowski over his scheme, unless you count Walter traumatizing him and crushing his inflated ego.
- I Am Not Shazam: The title refers to the millionaire (Big) Lebowski, not the Dude, as some might believe.
- Incredibly Lame Pun: "They're Nihilists, Donny. There's nothing to be afraid of."
- Kill It with Fire: The Dude's car meets its end this way at the hands of the nihilists.
Well, they finally did it. They killed my fucking car.
- Lame Comeback: "Yeah, well, you know, that's just like... uh... your opinion man."
- When the guy insulting you is a pederast, you might as well shrug and say, "Eight year olds".
- Large Ham: Walter, and Jesus Quintana.
"Fuckin' Quintana. That creep can roll, man."
- Law of Conservation of Detail: Subverted over and over, part of the movie's Deconstructive Parody of the Film Noir genre.
- Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: Autobahn, the extremely obscure 70's synth-pop band that Uli and his nihilist friends were in, is loosely based on Kraftwerk and takes its name from Kraftwerk's best known album.
- Lazy Bum: The Dude, and referred to as such by The Big Lebowski and the Malibu chief of police.
- Lemony Narrator: "Way out west, there was this fella I wanna tell you about..." Variation in that he's not sarcastic, just completely clueless about the genre.
- Let's Get Dangerous: While Walter does seem less-than-stable throughout the movie, it's mostly in a bombastic and ineffective sense that tends to make him less useful rather than more. At the very end in the confrontation with the nihilists, however, he demonstrates how effective he can really be.
- Although as the other two point out, they are only being shaken down for about twenty bucks.
- Lightning Bruiser: Walter.
- The Load: Walter is less-than-useful to the Dude for most of the film.
- Locked Out of the Loop: "Shut the fuck up, Donny."
- "Donny? Please."
- "DONNY, YOU'RE OUT OF YOUR ELEMENT!"
- "FORGET IT, DONNY!"
- Possibly "Life does not stop and start at your convenience, you miserable piece of shit!" Walter may be replying to The Dude's story about Brandt giving The Dude a beeper so he can be contacted at any time.
- "Donny, shut the f- when do we play?"
- Malaproper: "Mr. Treehorn treats objects like women, man!"
- Considering Treehorn mentions electronic innovations in erotic entertainment, this may be a subversion. On the filmmakers' part, at least.
- Manly Tears: "Do my tears surprise you? Strong men also cry, Mr. Lebowski. Strong men...also cry..." Possibly a subversion since you never see his tears indicating that he either knows she kidnapped herself or that he actually doesn't care about her.
- He sheds a few real ones when Walter tosses him to the floor.
- The Millstone: By involving himself in the Dude's "case", Walter probably causes more trouble than he solves.
"Yes, Walter, there is an unspoken message here, it's fuck you! LEAVE ME THE FUCK ALONE! ...Yes, I'll be at practice."
- Mock Guffin: "It's my dirty undies. Laundry, the whites."
- Mushroom Samba: Thrice. "The man in me will do / Nearly any task..."
- "I got up so tight/I couldn't unwind/I saw so much/I broke my mind..."
- New Age Retro Hippie: Asked what he does with his time, the Dude says "Drive around. Bowl. Enjoy the occasional acid flashback."
"I spent most of my time occupying various administration buildings... smoking a lot of Thai stick... breaking into the ROTC... and bowling."
- "Smokey's a pacifist!"
- Nietzsche Wannabe: The nihilists. "Ve beliefe in NUSTHING!!!"
- "Ahh, that must be exhausting."
- And then they get chewed out for not being real nihilists at the end:
"Is not fair!"
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Walter was partially based on the director and screenwriter, John Milius.
- No Except Yes: The Dude, when trying to explain his relationship with Maude to a private detective.
"She's not my special lady, she's my fucking lady friend! I'm just helping her conceive man!"
- Obfuscating Disability: "I've seen a lot of spinals, Dude. And this guy fuckin' walks." Subverted a moment later.
- Odd Couple: The Dude and Walter. One's a laid-back stoner hippy, the other's a tightly wound Vietnam vet with anger management issues.
- Oh, Hi There.: The DVD introduction includes a thoroughly bizarre parody of film preservation societies, apropos of nothing. And yet, it's completely in keeping with the film.
- Ominous Latin Chanting: During the "What makes a man" scene, the Lacrymosa from Mozart's Requiem is playing.
- One Steve Limit: Averted: "The other Jeffrey Lebowski! The millionaire!"
- Captain Obvious: Donny, whenever he comes in late to the conversation.
"Jeffrey Lebowski? That's your name, Dude!"
- Only Sane Man: Massive subversion with Walter, who proves to be the only insane man: "Has the whole world gone CRAZY?! Am I the only one around here who gives a shit about the rules?" Right before pulling out a Colt on a bowler who simply rule-argued with him.
- Of course, Walter proves ultimately correct about the kidnapping and the severed toe and all.
- Phrase Catcher: The Dude gets this a couple of different times, but the most distinctive is both Lebowski and Walter chastising the Dude for his "Fuck it" philosophy, calling it "[his] answer for everything."
- Donny is usually told to shut up by Walter and the Dude.
- Toward the end, the Dude finally gets to say what everyone else has said to him at some point:
"Where's the fuckin' money, Lebowski?"
- Pizza Boy Special Delivery: Watching Logjammin'
Maude: You can imagine where it goes from here.
- Playing Against Type: To some degree, John Goodman as Walter Sobchak. John Goodman's characters, when not directed by The Coen Brothers, tend to be nice, huggable jolly guys. Walter is anything but.
- Which nearly became his type. Goodman said in an interview that a lot of the roles offer to him post-Lebowski were variations of the blustering Walter character.
- Also, Steve Buscemi's role as a clueless, laid-back slacker who can't get a word in edgewise was written as a jokey inversion of the motor-mouthed psychopath types he'd played in Fargo and Reservoir Dogs.
- Walter's oft-repeated line "shut the fuck up Donny!" is precisely because Buscemi's wouldn't shut up in Fargo.
- Police Brutality: The Malibu Sheriff, who throws his mug at The Dude and begins kicking the shit out of him.
"Stay out of Malibu, dead-beat!!"
- Realistic Diction Is Unrealistic: Averted.
Dude: And, you know, has it ever occurred to you, that, instead of, uh, you know, running around, uh, uh, blaming me, you know, given the nature of all this new shit, you know, I-I-I-I... this could be a-a-a-a lot more, uh, uh, uh, uh, uh, uh, complex, I mean, it's not just, it might not be just such a simple... uh, you know?
- It was like that in the script - everything but "you human paraquat" was scripted.
- For another great example, see Lame Comeback above.
- Plays up the contrast between the "regular people" and the "film characters," as a side note. Characters who are obviously played as characters don't stutter, and engage in dialog - Maude, in particular, speaks like she's just stepped out of an old movie. Characters played as regular people thrust into a movie plot - like the Dude - have conversations, with all the attendant "ums" and misunderstandings.
- Really Gets Around: Bunny.
The Dude (to Maude): "I'm sorry your stepmother is a nympho..."
- Real Men Wear Pink: Real dudes drink White Russians.
- Red Herring: Da Fino, the guy following The Dude around in the VW, turns out to have nothing to do with the conspiracy - he's actually following it around.
- Not to mention the toe.
- Also, Jackie Treehorn's hastily-scribbled note.
- The essay in The Dude's car.
- Royal We: When The Dude is told to Come Alone, he's forced to bring Walter with him. He then blows Walter's cover by using the pronoun "we." He tries to explain that he was using "the Royal We."
- Rules Lawyer: "You're not wrong. You're just an asshole!"
- Running Gag: Walter mentioning 'nam whenever it pertains to the given situation. Or when it has completely nothing to do with it at all.
- Screw the Rules, I Have Connections: The police chief. "Mr. Treehorn draws a lot of water in this town. You don't draw shit, Lebowski."
- Script Fic: Two Gentlemen of Lebowski, written in the style of Shakespeare.
- Serious Business: Bowling, to everyone involved. Especially Walter. In fact, the image where Walter points a pistol at Smokey for toeing over the line yet still demanding his pin to count is the poster image for this trope.
Smokey, this is not 'Nam. This is bowling. There are rules.
- MARK IT ZERO!!!
- Walt, Donnie and The Dude play in a league so hardcore, sticking a pistol in an opponent's face over a rules violation not only won't get you disqualified, but the foul will be upheld.
- MARK IT ZERO!!!
- Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: There is a book version of this movie called The Most Excellent Comedie and Tragical Romance of Two Gentlemen of Lebowski by Adam Bertocci. It retells the premise of this movie in Shakespearean style (as in, What If The Big Lebowski was written by Shakespeare?)
- Shaggy Dog Story
- Shrine to Self: The eponymous "Big" Lebowski has one. The Dude is given a guided tour.
- Skewed Priorities: When Lebowski's limo driver is forcefully pulling The Dude to Lebowski's limo (after the drop-off), Dude warns the guy, "Careful, man! There's a beverage there!"
- The Slacker: Take a guess.
Stranger: The Dude, from Los Angeles. And even if he's a lazy man - and the Dude was most certainly that. Quite possibly the laziest in all of Los Angeles County, which would place him high in the runnin' for laziest worldwide.
- Soundtrack Dissonance: In the "family restaurant", during the Dude and Walter's profanity-laced dialogue about kidnapping and toes cut off, Debbie Reynolds' cutesy song, "Tammy" plays in the background.
- Also Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Lookin' Out My Back Door" when the Dude drops a lit joint in his car, causing him to crash. It was, however, Suspiciously Apropos Music for the Beetle following him.
- You realize, of course, that the Creedence was playing immediately after the Dude had had a prostate exam...
- Also Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Lookin' Out My Back Door" when the Dude drops a lit joint in his car, causing him to crash. It was, however, Suspiciously Apropos Music for the Beetle following him.
- Spirit Advisor: The Dude questions the Stranger about this:
"Is that some kind of Eastern thing?"
Dude: What is that, yoga?
- Stoner Flick: There is some debate over whether the film is funnier when you're stoned or not.
- Stupid Crooks: The story begins with two thugs breaking into The Dude's house and pissing on his rug after they manage to mistake him for a multi-millionaire - they don't even leave until they finally notice the Dude's living in a crappy house for a millionaire. Later, we get what is possibly the opposite of a lampshading when they finally get things sorted out and are summoned to collect the 'deadbeat' Lebowski:
First Goon: You're not dealin' with morons here.
- Tech Marches On: Nowadays, bowling alleys have automated scoring, and fouls would register automatically, so Walter's tirade wouldn't have happened if they were in place.
- There Is No Kill Like Overkill: MARK IT ZERO!
- Walter does it again when the Nihilists show up in person to rob them. He crushes one Nihilist's lung and bites off the ear of another.
- Third Person Person: The Dude slips into this
"The Dude MINDS, man!"
- Jesus does this as well.
- This Is for Emphasis, Bitch:
Jesus: "Let me tell you something, pendejo!"
- Those Two Guys: "You're not dealin' with morons here." Yes, we are.
- Title Drop: Towards the end, The Dude refers to the other man as "The Big Lebowski"
- Toxic Friend Influence: Walter, natch.
- Trademark Favorite Drink: For The Dude, a White Russian.
- Tranquil Fury: After spending most of the movie exploding in bombastic rage at any slight real or imagined, it's when the nihilists demand the money that the Dude, Walter and Donny have on them in lieu of the ransom that Walter gets quietly, chillingly livid. This precedes his Let's Get Dangerous moment.
Fuck you. What's mine is mine.
- Trash Talk: The Jesus.
"I see you rolled your way into the semis. Dios mio, man. Liam and me, we gonna fuck you up!"
- Trophy Room: The wall where the titular Big Lebowski displays awards won both by himself and by his "Little Lebowski Urban Achievers".
- Trophy Wife: Bunny.
- Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: "Father's weakness is vanity, hence the slut."
- Ironically echoed a few moments later when it turns out Maude humped the Dude for a child.
- Understatement: "He has health problems."
- Unusual Euphemism: Ties in with Gosh Dang It to Heck in edited-for-TV/aircraft versions, but improves upon it with: "This is what happens, Larry! This is what happens when you feed a soldier scrambled eggs!" (Alternatively "...when find a stranger in the Alps!")
- The Vamp: Bunny. "I'll suck your cock for a thousand dollars."
- Uh, I'm just gonna go find a cash machine ...
- The Vietnam War: Walter derails everything into a comparison with this, whether it makes sense or not.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: The Dude and Walter are, to an outside observer, completely incompatible people who, true to form, spend most of their time loudly arguing with each other. However, they're practically inseparable. Same with Walter and Donny; Walter spends a lot of time browbeating and yelling at Donny yet is clearly cut up when Donny dies from a heart attack.
- The Walrus Was Paul: Some suspect the film was intentionally designed to make a fool of anyone who attempts to analyze it, particularly after the Coens' previous movie Fargo had become a darling among highbrow critics.
- In the first scene with Jesus, the Dude and Walter are talking about Lenin. Donny, getting the wrong end of the stick, keeps saying "I am the Walrus."
- The Watson: Subverted with Donny, who is Locked Out of the Loop. "You have no frame of reference. You're like a child who wanders into the middle of a movie, and wants to know..."
- Where Do You Think You Are?: Walter's obnoxious habit of loudly getting on his high horse leads to people saying this. "This is a family restaurant." "This is a mortuary. Not a rental house."
- "Smokey, this is not 'Nam. This is bowling. There are rules."
- Wimp Fight:
- The nihilists talk a good game but are ultimately revealed to be this, since Walter ends up handing them their asses more or less single-handedly over the course of about a minute.
- When the Dude confronts Da Fino, the actual Private Detective, things look they're going to get physical for a moment. And by 'physical', this means they don't actually make contact with each other but sort of flinch.
- With Friends Like These...: The Dude and Walter have a deep friendship, but it's sometimes hard to tell with all that bickering. Even dropped by The Dude at one point.
The Dude: With friends like these, huh, Gary?
- Wrong Genre Savvy: The Dude thinks all the various threads he uncovers must figure into the big mystery at the center of the plot. They don't.
- The narrator thinks the film is a Western. It isn't.
- Xanatos Gambit: The titular Lebowski's machinations during the kidnapping; it does not matter at any time what the other players do, since even if the Dude opened the case and saw that he was never handed the ransom money in the first place, his total lack of credibility ensures that he ends up taking the heat for "botching" the exchange.
- Yes-Man: Brandt.