Story: While trying to get restitution for a ruined rug, the Dude takes on a kidnapping courier job that enmeshes him and his friends in a lethal mystery. Or something.
Detective: The Dude (aka Jeffrey Lebowski)
Release Date: March 6, 1988
Writer: Ethan and Joel Cohen
Source: VERY loosely based on The Big Sleep.
Detective as protagonist?
Murderer as antagonist?
Jenny: No murderer and not a clear antagonist, although that’s what we get for trying to do classic analysis on the Coens.
Lani: There’s no murderer, and there are many antagonists, not all of them related. This is a little murky.
Conflict created by murder?
Jenny: Substitute kidnapping for murder, and yes.
Lani: Conflict is created by the mystery, yes.
Fair play with all the clues given?
Jenny: Well, we know what the Dude knows, but since the Dude is stoned through the whole thing, he’s not exactly looking for clues.
Lani: We know more than the Dude knows – we’re told that she’s fine and she has her pinky toe when we see her car shoot down the freeway. So we’re given some answers which are just handed to us, rather than worked for.
Solved using deduction, not luck?
Jenny: The Dude has an insight at the end because of a clue Maude gives him.
Lani: The Dude figures it out, but at that point, there’s nothing at stake really but justice, letting the Big Lebowski know that the Dude knows and does not approve.
All threads pull together at the end?
Jenny says: ? Pops
Mystery: 3, Craft: 4, Suspense: 4, Romance: N/A, Comedy: 5
This is a Coen Bros. movie so running a classic analysis on it is a waste of time, you really just have to bask in the absurdity. They’ve done better stories (see Fargo and Raising Arizona), but the Dude is an iconic character (not to mention Walter) so they get props for that.
Lani says: 4 Pops
Mystery: 2, Craft: 4, Suspense: 2, Romance: n/a, Comedy: 5
This is a fun movie. It’s structurally a mess, but it works on its own terms, and for that, it’s fun. I’m not sure there’s a real lesson to be learned here about mystery, which is why we’re here, but as a fun, offbeat, non-traditional story, it’s definitely worth viewing.