Two Dudes Abide: The Big Lebowski in 2011

A much as I would like it to be otherwise, there is rarely a revival showing going on in this Bugg‘s hometown. A few years back I would have called the idea entirely preposterous like Uwe Boll directing and starring in an all tap-dancing version of Wuthering Heights.  Hell, we’re happy to finally get all the first run movies around here. So imagine my surprise when one of my best friends calls me up with news that The Big Lebowski was going to be shown one night only to coincide with the release of the film on BluRay. Sadly the event wasn’t planned by a madcap theater operator, but rather the auspices of Regal Entertainment Group. Still I appreciated a chance to get to see a Cohen brother’s classic I missed during its first run on the big screen.

I was also glad to get out with my friend, who for sake of argument I’ll call Stereo Rebel. Mr. Rebel is shortly to become a father for the first time (and by shortly I mean shortly but more on that later.) I know soon enough his free time to hang out playing video games, improving, and talkin’ general nerd smack is going to be limited. So I was glad to get to go out to see with flick with him. In some ways my relationship with the film The Big Lebowski mirrors that of mine with Stereo Rebel. Years back when I first met him, I was a little unclear about what I thought. Sometimes I didn’t like him at all (with the feeling more than mutual), but I found him amusing and quotable to a degree. Over the years, adding age and experience, he’s turned out to be one of my very favorite people, and the Big Lebowski has likewise turned into a favorite film.

The first hurdle to cross was getting to the movie itself. There was some general mention in the e-mail from Fandango about the event that Stereo Rebel had gotten about a commemorative poster to be given away at screening while supplies last. As we are both the kind of nerds who are going to have to have one if we can get one, that meant getting there an hour before the show. Which we did after I agreed that in case of his wife going into labor he could ditch me, take my car, and after I finished watching the movie, I would figure out how to get home/get to my car. Naturally, we were the first persons there, and there was nary a poster to be found except for a handbill for the remake of Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark (which I snagged). So we stood for a good half hour before they would even let us in the theater snacking on popcorn and giving the hairy eyeball to the middle aged ladies in line for The Help across the way. All in all, it was an effective way to spend thirty minutes.

Once we got in and sat down, a few more people tricked in over t next half hour. It started off with another demographic almost as slavishly on-time as fan boys, the middle aged. Slowly, the other groups dropped in. A frat boy in a Viking helmet with his friends. Several hipsters in various plaids and/or states of vintage clothes. The thoroughly confused. All in all, we numbered around thirty five by the time Regal’s First Look reel had clued us in on Conan O’Brian, ABC’s new lineup, and the remake of Straw Dogs. Then with no preamble or trailers, the movie began. Having never seen Lewbowski in the theater, I was blown away by how crisp the digital transfer was. Not only did it showcase how incredibly alive the color palette was, but also allowed me to pick out tiny details I had missed during my many home viewings.

I know Stereo Rebel enjoyed the film as much as I did. There were many lines that hit us both of us as funny because of delivery or timing but were lost on the majority of the crowd. (Which is a perfect example of why he’s my pal, and I didn’t know a single other person there.) Despite the fact we both loved ever minute, I noticed that he kept his phone close to hand or sitting on his knee. I’ve actually never seen anyone so relaxed and high strung at the same time. In a flash, he was ready to be out, to spring into action, to go and bring his kid into the world. He was also ready to enjoy the version of “Dead Flowers” by Townes Van Zandt over the end credits until I mentioned that they might be giving out posters on the way out of the theater. Faster than a guy clapping for free internet porn, he was out of his seat and down the hallway. There on a table like manna from cinematic heaven set a heavy stack of Lebowski re-release posters emblazoned with the special screening date. So with rolled up bounty under out arms, and bellies full of buttery popcorn goodness, we let out into the night.

I realize I’ve said very little about The Big Lebowski in this post, so here’s my thoughts in a nutshell. It’s in my top 10 films of all time, top 5 comedies of all time, “I am the Walrus.”, I would blow on Tara Reid’s toes any day (though not Aimee Mann’s unconnected one), “nice marmot”, holding out hope for the Credence, “I am the Walrus.”,  The Man in Me by Bob Dylan is awesome, and poor, poor sweet Donny. Stripping down all the detective story and stoner jokes and fucking Eagles, The Big Lewbowski is a movie about friends. Walter, The Dude, and Donny all have different, crazy lives, but deep affection for each other though it may not always be obvious. With my close friends that's often how it is as well.

So, if I may, I want to wish Stereo Rebel and his missus the best on their impending bundle of joy. While I (and his other friends) may not like all of Stereo Rebel’s new responsibilities at times, I’ve got it on pretty good authority that he’s just about to bring another Lewbowski fan into the world. I take comfort in that. Its good knowin' there’s going to be future generations out there. Fans of the Dude. Taking it easy for all us sinners. So until next time folks, crack open a good sarsaparilla. The Bugg abides.

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