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(Credit: 20th Century Fox)


Exploring the connection between 'Dude, Where's My Car?' and 'The Big Lebowski'


You may think that Danny Leiner’s stoner comedy Dude, Where’s My Car? has zero impact on the wider world of cinema, referencing only the short history of 1990s filmmaking rather than paying tribute to the history of the medium, but you’d be dead wrong. In addition to having one of the greatest film titles ever conjured, the Seann William Scott and Ashton Kutcher comedy also pays tribute to its predecessors The Big Lebowski and Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Though it was lambasted both critically and commercially upon its release, Dude, Where’s My Car? now holds a charming nostalgia that has made it one of the most beloved cult films of the new century. Interweaving stoner comedy with a fantastical story that involves alien lifeforms and magical artefacts, Danny Leiner’s film shares more similarities with the likes of contemporary comedies such as Rick and Morty than it did with the simplistic genre films of the ‘90s. 

Taking a trip with Jesse (Kutcher) and Chester (Scott), the film follows the pair’s search for their missing Renault 105 whilst they try to recall their whereabouts from a drunken night out the day before. Believing the film might actually be an Oscar contender upon its release in 2000, Scott later admitted his shortsightedness in an interview with Conan in 2019 where he revealed he was “really upset” about missing out, believing that if the film came out now it would surely “win some medals”. 

So, how could this bombastic stoner comedy ever link back to the Coen brothers classic, The Big Lebowski? As you might have guessed, the connection has something to do with the film’s lead character named ‘The Dude’ played by Jeff Bridges, sharing his nickname with the title of the 2000 comedy. In fact, the name of the film, as well as one iconic moment is directly influenced by a somewhat forgettable moment in the Coen brothers’ classic, when John Goodman’s Walter leaves the bowling alley and utters to Bridges’ character, “Dude, where’s your car…where’s your car dude”. 

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Two years later, almost this exact same line of dialogue would once again be uttered in Dude, Where’s My Car? as Jesse and Chester repeat “dude, where’s my car…where’s your car dude,” back and forth. Connecting two iconic stoner comedies, there’s something strangely satisfying about knowing that The Big Lebowski and Dude, Where’s My Car? may indeed exist in the same universe, with the events of the latter perhaps being a marijuana-fuelled trip for the Dude and Walter. 

Director Danny Leiner didn’t stop at the Coen brothers in his tribute to the history of comedy either, even doffing his cap to the British comedy troupe Monty Python in one particular moment when a French Ostrich farmer asks the pair of boys about the average running speed of a full-grown male African ostrich. Whilst the link isn’t as clear cut as The Big Lebowski reference, the short line of dialogue is thought to be a callback to when a mysterious man asks Graham Chapman’s King Arthur, “What is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?”. 

Think it’s about time Dude, Where’s My Car? was considered something more than a mere ‘stoner comedy’.