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Monday, January 18, 2016

I try to be very careful when it comes to allowing cult movies to cross over into classic status because, in my opinion, not many cult movies are classics. Cult movies are fun, but they usually lack some of the basics that make up a classic. For example, the Rocky Horror Picture Show is a fun cult movie, but it lacks a point for it to be a classic.

The Big Lebowski is one of those cult movies that crosses over into the realm of classic because everything about the movie is handled perfectly. The bowling aspect of The Big Lebowski is actually used as an anchor for the plot, instead of some bizarre distraction that gives the movie flavor. Then there are elements formed around the bowling aspect (“Nobody [bleeps] with the Jesus.”) that are extremely funny, but bowling actually serves a purpose in this movie, which is nice.

Another aspect of The Big Lebowski that allows it to be a classic and a cult movie is the fact that the bizarre elements of the movie do not take on cartoonish characteristics that make them silly. In Dude, Where’s My Car?, the bizarre elements escalate until we get a pair of panties from a 50-foot girl. In The Big Lebowski, the weirdness seems somehow under control, and it never gets to the point where we lose interest.

What helps this movie to keep it together is that the truly bizarre scenes are presented as dreams, and any good movie can have the strangest dream sequences it wants because that is what dreams are supposed to be. Yeah, people make some really weird decisions in The Big Lebowski, but people make really weird decisions in real life too. The dreams presented in the movie never cross over into the reality, which helps this movie to stay on target.

The Big Lebowski also presents us with characters that are quotable and fun to watch. The Dude, Walter, and Donny (“Shut up, Donny!”) move the story along and represent everything that is good about this movie. When tragedy strikes the three friends, their responses are emotional and realistic. Once again, the cartoon aspect is left out of the movie and we are given something we can actually enjoy.

While all of these things are important to a classic movie, to me nothing is more important than the comedy. In The Big Lebowski, the comedy is spot-on and the movie makes me laugh uncontrollably to this day. I have seen this movie dozens of times, and it still makes me laugh. To me, that is the sign of a classic comedy and an indication that this movie will keep being a feature presentation at theaters around the country for a long, long time.

The Big Lebowski creates its own inside jokes that its uses over and over again to perfection, but never so much that it wears them out. It is a well-written movie that is perfectly cast. It is hard to say that this movie made any of the actors’ careers, but it certainly did not hurt them. This is a fun movie that does not require any thinking, but it is also movie with perfect timing and iconic elements that seem to fit together perfectly. And then the rug just ties it all together. What more could you want from a classic film?

Rating: 3 ½ out of 5

+George N Root III is a drive-in movie fanatic who cannot wait to throw on his bathrobe each night and enjoy a White Russian. Follow him on Twitter @georgenroot3 or send him a message at Be sure to listen to the debut broadcast of the new radio show Shenanigans on East Niagara Radio Wednesday night at 8 p.m.

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