The Big Lebowski has undergone a hell of a transformation since hitting big screens over a decade ago. A (very) mild financial success upon theatrical release, it's gone on to become a bona fide cult phenomenon, spawning "Dudeism" -- an online religion with over 60,000 ordained ministers -- and the annual Lebowski Fest, which began in Kentucky and has now spread across the country and the Atlantic. (A local Lebowski party is set for tonight at 7:30 p.m. at Discovery Green.)
Discussion of the plot rarely leads anywhere because, let's face it, narrative cohesion isn't what drives fans of the film. But the protagonist, the center of the chaos, is Jeffrey Lebowski. AKA "The Dude." Based partially on film producer Jeff Dowd (who helped secure financing for Ethan and Joel Coen's first movie, Blood Simple), The Dude is a modern icon, but how does he stand up to other dudes of yore?
5. Dude Love (Mick Foley)
Lebowski's powers of...Dudeness may be formidable, but I'm 99% sure he wouldn't be able to put an ass-whooping on the Rock like Dude Love did here. Stone Cold only stepped in because it was four against one.
4. "Dude." -- BASEketball (1998)
Admittedly, this isn't much of a movie. It was released the same year as The Big Lebowski, but no one holds annual baseketball tournaments. The amount of "dudes" in the movie, however, as well as the dude-only exchange between Trey Parker and Matt Stone towards the end, are certainly deserving of notice.
3. Superdude -- The Simpsons
He's never seen alive, but it's his death that indirectly leads to Mr. Burns' creation of the Sun Blocker, resulting in...someone attempting to murder him. Okay, I'm sort of reaching with this one.
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2. Evander Berry Wall ("King of the Dudes")
At a time when the term "dude" was an insult, Wall wore it like a badge of honor. Possessing over 5,000 neckties and 500 complete wardrobe changes, he once won a bet by changing clothes 40 times between breakfast and dinner. Like Lebowski, he favored alcohol (he drank only champagne), but come on...he was The King of the Dudes. Lebowski would have to swear allegiance to him, if anything.
Watching this clip from the Howard Hawks/John Wayne classic, you realize there's no way anyone can approach Dino's coolness. Not even a certain former Seattle Seven member. Then Ricky Nelson starts singing.