Who would have thought back in ’98, when The Big Lebowski flopped at the box office, with an audible thud, that someday it would get its own fan book? Well, now it has one in I’m a Lebowski, You’re a Lebowski: Life, The Big Lebowski, and What Have You (Bloomsbury, Aug 2007).
By all logic, The Big Lebowski should have hit box office gold. As “The Dude” himself, Jeff Bridges, points out in the book’s forward, the Coen brothers had just won an Oscar for Fargo. Not to mention the great writing and cast. However, it was only when the movie was released on video and DVD, and then eventually Blu-ray, that it finally found its adoring audience.
None more adoring and devoted, it seems, than the authors of this book: Bill Green, Ben Peskoe, Will Russell and Scott Shuffitt. Together they are known as “the Bums that brought you Lebowski Fest” (a name they self-applied).
Lebowski Fest, which has its own chapter in the book, is essentially a convention for hardcore fans of the movie (known as “Achievers”). Activities include bowling, the consumption of numerous White Russians, a screening of The Big Lebowski and, in more recent years, concerts from bands like My Morning Jacket. The band, like the majority of the others present, wore full costume.
A whole chapter is turned over to the “Achievers,” which includes interviews with celebrities and regular people alike. One such featured “Achiever” is Johnny Hickman, co-founder of the band Cracker. He has attended the Lebowski Fest, and described the attendees by saying they’re “like Trekkies, only slightly hipper and more relaxed.”
Craig McCracken, creator of The Powerpuff Girls and Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, notes how he has inserted references to the movie in both of his shows. It is a rather surprising place to find nods to the movie, considering the word “fuck,” and its variants, are spoken 281 times in The Big Lebowski. This is one of several pieces of interesting trivia found in the book.
There’s also a series of interviews conducted with the movie’s real-life, living inspirations. Some characters are composites of several people, and it is much to “the Bums” credit that despite the complications that must have posed, they went out and achieved anyway. They even tracked down a man who didn’t know an event from his life had been included into a movie.
The actors are also interviewed, and some interesting facts are revealed there as well. For instance, how those were stunt joints “The Dude” was smoking. Bridges says he prefers to rely on “sense memory” these days, admitting that there was a time when he tried getting drunk for drunken scenes, and high for stoned scenes, but found that ultimately it made it too difficult to maintain through a number of takes.
John Turturro laid out his plans for a sequel/spin-off to The Big Lebowski, to be called The Second Coming. The movie would follow his own character: Jesus Quintana. Turturro said that he’d be willing to direct it himself if the Coen brothers would agree to write it.
The Coen brothers themselves stayed away, however. They do have a quote that begins the book, “They have neither our blessing nor our curse,” but that’s about it. Seeing as they’re known for shunning most interviews, especially about their older movies, it is little surprise. While it would have been nice if they’d submitted to an interview, the book is fascinating and complete even without the filmmakers’ acquiescence.
In addition to all the film analysis, and the film history, and what have you, there are more lighthearted bits thrown in here and there to break things up. One example is the “How Dude Are You?” quiz, which it should be noted has 420 points as its highest score.
If you love The Big Lebowski, if you’re one of those who understand its brilliance, then you will delight in I’m a Lebowski, You’re a Lebowski. If you’re not a fan, well, forget it. You’re probably a human paraquat anyway.
Tell us what you thought of this review in the comments below.
Latest posts by Jeff Taylor (see all)
- Rolfe Neigenfind Interview - October 17, 2015
- Comedian Duncan Trussell’s Inspiring Call to DIY Arms - July 28, 2015
- WATCH: S.C. Senator Bright Grandstands on Gay Marriage During Confederate Flag Debate - July 7, 2015