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More about The Big Lebowski

Out & about: film

Dude, let's go bowling

Will Hodgkinson
Wednesday May 11, 2005


Big Lebowski
White Russian fan: Jeff Bridges as The Dude in The Big Lebowski
 
"We're much cooler than Trekkies," claims Nick Scott, the organiser of The Dude Abides, Britain's annual festival dedicated to bowling movie The Big Lebowski. Starring Jeff Bridges as The Dude, "possibly the laziest man in Los Angeles County", the offbeat humour and championing of the underdog makes the Coen brothers' cult classic an eternally quotable student perennial. Scott had the idea for The Dude Abides after hearing of nights in America where fans of the film dressed up as their favourite characters and hit the local bowling alley to drink White Russians (The Dude's beverage of choice) and score a few strikes. But can excessive fandom ever really be cool? I headed down to Streatham Megabowl in London to find out.



This kind of operation demanded a cover. I opted for the oversized silver moustache and cowboy hat of The Stranger, the film's narrator. This turned out to be an acceptable if not hugely imaginative approach. Alongside myriad versions of The Dude (lank hair, woolly cardigan, shorts) there was every interpretation of the film's significant scenes you could think of: three men in red Lycra catsuits were wielding giant scissors, re-enacting a nightmare The Dude has about having his testicles chopped off by nihilists; the wheelchair-user Jeffrey Lebowski mentions having his legs blown away by "some Chinaman in Korea" - a Chinaman turned up clutching two severed legs.

Over a soundtrack of Creedence Clearwater (The Dude's kind of band) and as many White Russians as you could drink, the bowling commenced in earnest. The large number of attractive women - many dressed as bowling pin-clad figures from The Dude's fantasies - suggested that these Big Lebowski fans did have a life outside of the film, and by the end of the evening the drunken bad behaviour confirmed Scott's claim that this was indeed cooler than the average Star Trek convention.

"London can be a lonely place. The Dude is the kind of guy we'd all like as our friend," he said from his wheelchair (he came as Lebowski). Then a nihilist screamed, "I believe in nothing!" and grabbed Scott's wheelchair to send it careering down a bowling lane and hit a perfect strike. That was the last I saw of him.







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