My brother told me a while ago that I had to watch The Big Lebowski in order to be properly a member of my generation. Kind of like my older cousins and Clerks. So I did because I just finished fighting my bike into a box that looks like something a very large mouse might eat and I was eating some dinner.
My first instinct is to trash-talk the movie because nothing much happens in it and it didn't make me feel anything in particular. It had some funny moments, but nothing that funny. I didn't care enough about the character that got killed for it to bother me. Basically I just spent about an hour and a half watching a movie in which nothing happens, and I will never get that hour and a half back.
Then I started to realize something. An hour and a half in which nothing much happens is a pretty good metaphor for many people's lives. I don't know too many of them lately because I moved to New York in order to do something, and I'm surrounded by people who did too. And it's not like nothing much happens in the movie. A lot of truly bizarre things happen, and they start when the main character is mistaken for someone of the same name but with more money. Most of the time, he just exists.
To return to people I do know, I think I've decided that I agree with my brother. While I don't see them much lately, I believe there to be a big contingent of my generation that went back home after college and have stayed there. The Dude's life, and theirs, are like the eye of a hurricane - amid all the noise and violence, an area of calm.
I don't know if I'm going to give Joel and Ethan Coen credit for being the next Sartre. I'd have to read the guy before I could make any kind of judgment. But the Dude is a pretty good Woyzeck for our times, or at least the 90's.
I don't know if I'm ready to say that it's a good movie just because it reminds me of a play I read that's supposed to be exemplary of a philosophical movement I can't claim to knowing that well. But I can't say it's a bad movie either, because it's expressive of a kind of malaise that I think effects a lot of people my age.