The Dude Abides

5th annual charity event Lebowskipalooza shows love for 90s cult classic

Put on your favourite Creedence tape, tie up your bowling shoes, and starting mixing up some White Russians: Lebowskipalooza, an event based around the 90s cult comedy The Big Lebowski, will be held at the Garrick Centre on Oct. 18.

The event, which donates proceeds to the Alzheimer Society of Manitoba, returns for the fifth year in the row after being formed in early 2009 from a discussion between two friends.

“Trent Whidden (the driving force behind Lebowskipalooza) [and I] were discussing how what a bummer it was that we never saw the movie in the theatres back in 1998 when it first came out,” says Greg Skazyk of the Lebowskipalooza organizing committee.

“We discussed, jokingly at first, about renting a theatre somewhere in Winnipeg and running the movie for us and our friends.”

Written, directed, and produced by the Coen brothers (Fargo, No Country for Old Men, O Brother Where Art Thou?), The Big Lebowski is one of the more outlandish dark comedies of the past 20 years.

The film tells the tale of Jeffrey Lebowski, who more commonly refers to himself as “the Dude” (Jeff Bridges). While the Dude is content with his lethargic, drama-free routine, trouble finds him as his life becomes intertwined with a millionaire of the same name.

With the assistance of his bowling team consisting of a paranoid Vietnam veteran named Walter (John Goodman) and their clueless pal Donny (Steve Buscemi), the Dude soon finds himself wrapped into several absurd events featuring the likes of Krautrock Nihilists, pornography producers, and a pedophile bowler named Jesus.

When the movie was originally released in March of 1998, its success was limited. With an estimated budget of US $15 million, the movie only made about US $5.5 million in the United States on its opening weekend. Movie reviews were mixed.

In 1998, Peter Howell of the Toronto Star wrote, “It’s hard to believe that this is the work of a team that won an Oscar last year for the original screenplay of Fargo.”

Over the past decade, though, there has been a newfound appreciation for the film. The Big Lebowski has evolved into a cult classic.

“I think there may be several things that people connect with in this movie,” says Skazyk. He says that all the characters are interesting and memorable, and that the dialogue by the Coen brothers is wonderfully written – many lines in the movie are quotable.

“Finally, I’d say that a lot of people see at least a bit of themselves in the Dude,” says Skazyk. “He’s an underdog, and everyone loves to root for the underdog.”

With a supportive fan base clamouring to every joke and quote from the film (“Donny, you’re out of your element!”), festivals based on the film have multiplied across North America, giving fans the ability to show their appreciation for the Dude outside of watching the movie.

For the past four years, Lebowskipalooza has proved to be the fix for all the “Lebowski urban achievers of Winnipeg.” The volunteer-run event raised $1,700 last year and Skazyk expects it will raise even more money this year.

With the main feature being a screening of the 1998 film, the event will also feature “the usual suspects: [a] costume contest, ringer toss, trivia, dance-off, and plenty of White Russians,” says Skazyk.

Doors for Lebowskipalooza open at 6 p.m. with games beginning at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15 plus applicable fees at and at the door.