"Okay sir, you're a Lebowski, I'm a Lebowski, that's terrific, I'm very busy so what can I do for you?"
Everyone was a Little Lebowski Urban Achiever last night at New York's Hammerstein Ballroom as thousands of abiders gathered to witness the "Big Lebowski" cast reunion as part of 2011 Lebowskifest. The surreal atmosphere was perpetuated by people dolled up as just about every character in the movie including at least a dozen "Walters" (some with Folgers Coffee urns) and countless folk dressed as His Dudeness, many sitting next to each other.
Perennial Lebowskifest attendee Jeff Dowd, a.k.a. "The Actual Real Dude" that Bridges and the Coens based the character on, was present for a pre-show Q&A/costume contest, and even James G. Hoosier who played "Liam O'Brien, Quintana's Bowling Partner" showed up to enjoy the event from the audience.
Things really began to roll once the cast hit the stage, including Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, Julianne Moore, John Turturro, and legendary music supervisor T-Bone Burnett, who produced Bridges new self-titled album. Moderator/self-described "Lebowski" fanatic/Entertainment Weekly senior writer Clark Collis hit them with many questions in the vein of, "Why is this movie such a phenomenon/who was the first loony to accost you on the street?"
Julianne Moore recalls, "I'd walk down the street and people would say, 'You're in my favorite movie, you'll never guess what it is!' and I'd go, 'The Big Lebowski.' 'Yeah, man!' Then I'd pass another person walking down the street, they're 19 or 20, and they'd say, 'Oh my God, you're in my favorite movie, man, you'll never guess what it is!'"
"I actually started getting a lot of sex mail," said Turturro, "usually things they would want The Jesus to do to them. [to cast] Sometimes you guys are involved."
"YOU GOT A DATE WEDNESDAY, BABY!" shouted someone from the crowd.
Burnett, who won a Grammy working with the Coen Bros on "O Brother, Where art Thou?" commented, "There's something about this movie that spoke deeply to musicians, you know? Every tour bus traveling around the country had 'The Big Lebowski' on a loop."
Of the film's creators, Joel and Ethan Coen, Bridges said, "We just made a movie together recently, 'True Grit,'" said Bridges to huge applause. "They're the best, they're the guys, man, they really know how to do it. Some directors make it so easy, they create the environment for you to cook. The Coen Brothers are like that."
When asked what he thinks The Dude might be up to now, Bridges said he would be a masseuse and enjoying that very much, and when asked what Dude's bowling buddy Walter was up to, Goodman replied, "He tried to join the French Foreign Legion but they made him work on Shabbos."
"I couldn't believe Donnie died," mourned Buscemi. "I couldn't believe they'd do that to me after they put me in the wood chipper."
Although there ostensibly to promote the new Blu-ray release of "The Big Lebowski," it was obvious everyone on stage was having a blast and had genuinely enjoyed working together. The cast had difficulty hearing each other given the acoustics in the massive venue, so a perpetually-cool Bridges led the entire audience in a vigorous chant of "Ommmmmmmm." It really tied the room together.
Once the actual movie began the crowd came to roaring life, shouting out lines before they were even spoken onscreen and, obviously, a distinct odor of cannabis was notable. What's remarkable is that the movie itself, taking place in 1991, was already a period piece when first released in 1998, thus giving it a truly timeless feel.
The central relationship between Donnie, Walter, and The Dude feels genuine despite all the crap they put each other through, and it becomes clear that with all the desperate characters around them willing to do anything for a buck, these guys get by on the simple pleasures in life, which is comforting.
"F**k it, Dude, let's go bowling."
Although many pieces of dialogue received applause throughout, the biggest reactions came for "Nobody f**ks with the Jesus" and, of course, "The Dude abides."