Jun 6, 2018

Sacred Cows: the undeserved cult love for The Big Lebowski

Critics who have come to praise the Coen brothers' The Big Lebowski are victims of cult followers' persistence, psycho-semiotic babble and zealotry.

David Latham

Freelance writer

big lebowski sacred cow

Sacred Cows is a series dedicated to overrated cultural artefacts and the more deserving ones we’ve lost sight of in their shadows. Each installment will pose an argument for one or the other, re-evaluating the worth of a text and the praise it has (or hasn’t) received.

This week, David Latham makes the case against The Big Lebowski.

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14 thoughts on “Sacred Cows: the undeserved cult love for The Big Lebowski

  1. Saugoof

    Or, you know, people rate it highly because they really like it. Or as the Dude would say, “Well, that’s, like, just your opinion”.

    I remember how the movie was somewhat panned, and I was a bit disappointed with it at first too. But the issue wasn’t that the film wasn’t any good, it was just something very different from what I expected. I think most critics had the same experience, especially with this coming right after Fargo.

  2. Wexford

    You’re over your head, David!
    I’d add the rest of the Walter quote but that would be unnecessarily rude (and besides, you used it already).

  3. Spica

    Miller’s Crossing was good fun, but like a cartoon. Everyone gets shot and no-one cares.
    And David Thewlis’s instructions would have been Just be very annoying, and he nailed it.

  4. NiciL

    Perhaps there is something amiss with your definition of “cult movie”? I didn’t like it much at the time but I’d stopped smoking pot by then.

  5. Guru

    I can’t in many ways disagree with much of your commentary, but I think you are overthinking it, as Saugoof says, it became a cult not because of its semiotic richness or its deep philosophy and social commentary but just because it struck a cord with people and they liked it, what you find unfunny many find hilarious.

  6. Vasco

    Wrong. wrong, wrong Davo. The Dude abides.

  7. Dog's Breakfast

    Well, the very definition of a cult movie is one that is inexplicable popular, usually in retrospect, with a small but devoted group of followers.

    What will always upset and concern critics is that some films just are. Coen brothers have a record of making non-linear films which have to be digested in the non-rational parts of your personality. The desperate attempts of people to analyse or critique a film which doesn’t fit into any academic or Hollywood theory just add fuel to the fire of those who enjoyed it.

    Lay back, stop thinking, and let it just ooze in to you. It does, and possibly you will then abide. These characters, and storylines that go nowhere, are our lives.

    1. Dog's Breakfast

      Inexplicably, perhaps!

  8. Norm

    I only watched the film once, on rented VCR probably, given its 1998 release date, and thought it was a bit of fun.
    But, and very big but, it is worth watching all the way through, if only to hear Shawn Colvin’s quintessential cover of ‘Viva Las Vegas’ play over the end credits. Took me over a decade to track down a recordable copy of the song, but it never left my memory till I did – now that is cult!

  9. AR

    I was hoping for more from the nihilists who at least had … a purpose.

  10. Merrie Trixie

    This is the MacGuffin. As Latham suggests, the Jeet Heer article is more than enough.
    And he probably doesn’t like Withnail and I either.
    May his ashes blow back in his face. That would be cosmically funny.

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