This Coen Brothers classic has more than just fantastic dialog and the best bowling sequences ever filmed. It also has some valuable information that can help us live like the men we aught to be.
11. A nice rug can really tie a room together.
When we learn it: A "Chinaman" pees on the Dude’s rug, leaving his space looking sparse.
Why it’s important: It seems like a silly thing to say, but it’s important to like the place you live. If you have a rug that really makes a room pop, don’t let someone pee all over it without a fight. That goes for other home furnishings as well.
10. Do not fuck a stranger in the ass (even figuratively).
When we learn it: When Walter thinks that a barely pubescent kid stole his million dollars, he takes out his aggression with a crowbar and a brand new Corvette.
Why it’s important: If you’re not going to respect someone else’s property, you get no sympathy when the owner and his enormous, crazy friend come knocking on your door. Also, if you watch the version that’s edited for television, you’ll get a bonus lesson, which is that when you try to clean-up "fuck a stranger in the ass," the best you’ll get is "find a stranger in the Alps." Yikes.
9. "If you will it, it is no dream."
When we learn it: During one of his rants, Walter quotes Theodor Herzl and the slogan of the Zionist movement.
Why it’s important: In this context, it’s basically a fancy way of saying that anything is possible if you’re willing to try. It’s a similar lesson to the one Oprah pushes with The Secret and also the philosophical teachings of the great R. Kelly when he said, "I believe I can fly."
8. Don’t butt into the middle of a conversation.
When we learn it: Donnie is always walking in with no frame of reference. Usually because he was bowling.
Why it’s important: Walter is a little hard on the guy just for wanting to be included, but no one likes repeating themselves. If you missed out on part of a story, just get the rest of the info later and don’ break up the flow of the convo. You’ll just end up looking like a child who wanders in in the middle of a movie and wants to know…you get the point.
7. A world without rules is a world of pain.
When we learn it: Smokey steps over the line during a league match and still tries to count his score. Walter corrects him by pointing a piece at him. He gets in trouble with the league, but more importantly, he gets his point across.
Why it’s important: When you start ignoring important rules, whether they be in the bowling alley or down on Wall Street, shit starts to fall apart. Without structure we would all be anarchists, or worse, nihilists.
6. Pacifism is not something to hide behind.
When we learn it: After the confrontation with Smokey, Walter reminds the dude that you have to take charge to get what you want.
Why it’s important: Walter’s outburst may have caused the bowling alley guys to call the cops, but it also assured them of a trip to the next round robin. Had he been a pacifist, he would’ve let the foul go and possibly lost his chance to roll in the next round. Keep that in mind the next time a fast food joint screws up your order or your boss blames you for something that isn’t your fault. Just don’t pull a gun on them. Or, if you do, don’t tell them I gave you the idea.
5. Strong men can cry.
When we learn it: Mr. Lebowski is broken up over the (fake) kidnapping of his lovely wife played by Tara Reid back when she was still hot.
Why it’s important: Contrary to popular belief, there are certain instances when it’s OK for guys to cry, like getting hit in the balls really hard during a company softball game or realizing that the majority of your investments were in Washington Mutual. Of course, there are still plenty of instances when it’s totally inappropriate to turn on the waterworks, but know that it’s OK to let your emotions out…when you’re alone.
4. Once a plan gets too complex, everything can go wrong.
When we learn it: Walter comes up with a plan to get the girl out of trouble and keep the million bucks. It involves a sack full of dirty underpants.
Why it’s important: The general concept is the same as Occam’s razor (the simplest solution is often the best one), but Walter brilliantly applies it in a real life situation. Well, it’s not really that "real world" in that most people will never have anything to do with a kidnapping and it’s not that brilliant since it fails miserably, but you get the point. Don’t complicate things if you don’t have to.
3. Don’t take white Russians from strangers.
When we learn it: Jackie Treehorn serves the Dude a drink laced with drugs that knock him unconscious and send him on an acid trip into the land of bowling-themed porn.
Why it’s important: When I was in college, we went to all of these seminars where they told the girls never to take a drink they didn’t see made because of the significant chance that it could have roofies in it. I guess the Dude could’ve used one of those talks, since he had no trouble taking a mixed drink from a known pornographer.
2. Life is made up of strikes and gutters.
When we learn it: After Donnie’s ashes have been spread and the kidnapping issue has been resolved, the Dude has a final interaction with the cowboy.
Why it’s important: "Sometimes you ear the bear (bar?) and sometimes the bear eats you," is just another way of saying shit happens. Deal with it. Even after losing one of his best friends, the Dude still makes the most it by doing the things he loves most: Drinking and bowling.
1. Fuck it.
When we learn it: If I needed to sum up this movie’s message in two words, those would certainly be the ones I pick. The most important usage comes right after the Dude gets a face-full of the Donny’s ashes on the cliffs and Walter hugs him to apologize.
Why it’s important:
You’d be amazed the situations you can deal with if you’re willing to just say "fuck it." The president has been doing it for eight years and he’s the friggin’ president. Don’t learn from him, though. Learn from the Dude.
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