Your Slacker, My Hero

The Big Lebowski opened in 1998 to mixed reviews and a so-so box office. Fresh off the smash success of their breakthrough 1996 movie Fargo, Joel and Ethan Coen had raised critics' expectations for yet another dark, demented comedy in the vein of Raising Arizona or Blood Simple. Instead, the brothers threw everybody for a loop with the wandering tale of laid-back, dope-smoking slacker Jeff “The Dude” Lebowski (Jeff Bridges), who's mistaken for a crime kingpin of the same name and soon finds himself embroiled in some very risky business. Reviewers weren't sure what to think about this strange stew, a film peopled with bizarre characters such as a volatile Vietnam vet (John Goodman), a sleazy Latino bowler (John Turturro), and a threatening band of German nihilist assassins who suspiciously resemble the band Kraftwerk. But fans of freaky cinema soon discovered a flick worthy of veneration when Lebowski hit video stores, transforming the box office failure into a bona fide midnight-movie hit. A number of theaters and arts groups have since paid tribute to what has come to be known as the “Cult of Lebowski.” Duuuuude!
April 19-21, 7 & 9:25 p.m.; Wed., April 20, 2 & 4:20 p.m.; Thu., April 21, 7 & 9:25 p.m., 2011

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