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I have four favorite movies.

There’s this one:


This one:

The Big Lebowski

This one:


And, of course, this one:

Little Miss Sunshine

If you don’t happen to share my movie taste, here they are: Sideways, The Big Lebowski, Wonderboys and Little Miss Sunshine. There are a lot of other movies I like, of course, but these four are the ones I come back time after time for regular viewings. I know the plots inside and out, memorized huge chunks, but never tire of them.

In thinking about this, I was recently struck by how incredibly similar these movies are. Sideways, part comedy/part drama about two friends on a road trip testing the bounds of their friendship while dealing with personal demons – alcohol, mid-life crises, love troubles. The Big Lebowski, part comedy/part drama (okay mostly comedy) about three friends testing the bounds of their friendship while dealing with personal demons – bowling, doing the right thing, and, uh,  a pee-stained rug (it really tied the room together). Wonderboys, part comedy/part drama about three friends testing the bounds of their friendship while dealing with personal demons – writer’s block, the pressure of high expectations, professional failure. And Little Miss Sunshine which finds a hugely dysfunctional family dealing with their own individual problems while also coming back together as a family.

Two of the movies – Sideways and Little Miss Sunshine – feature roadtrips. All four take place on a finite timeline. Sideways and Wonderboys both take place over a weekend. The Sideways road trip takes a week. The Big Lebowski doesn’t really have a calendar time line, but the plot builds to a climax (finding the rug and/or the Dude’s stolen car and/or the nihilist kidnappers.)

These movies are a lot alike. A LOT. So much so that it must mean something that out of all the movies I’ve seen and enjoyed, all the movies I’ve been preoccupied watching when they come on cable, these are the four I come back, analyze, dwell on. I even got the shooting script for Little Miss Sunshine just so I could better analyze the dialogue.

Why? Why these four? What do these selections say about me?

Does it matter? Probably not.

But I still wonder.


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