Lyric’s 20th anniversary ‘Lebowski’ screening bowls audience with subversive ethos

Nick Botkin

A stoner’s rug is peed on. Severed toes, bowling ball licking pederasts and German nihilists abound.

The new Lyric Cinema in Fort Collins, Colorado
The Lyric Cinema in Fort Collins screened “The Big Lebowski” to an audience of approximately 200 in honor of the movie’s 20th anniversary (Photo courtesy of Nick Botkin)

These are just some of the darkly comic elements of the Coen Brothers’ “The Big Lebowski.”

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On March 6, a large audience of Big Lebowski fans, or achievers, to use the parlance of our times, congregated at the Lyric Cinema. The Lyric was screening the movie in honor of its 20th anniversary.

The movie’s protagonist is Jeffrey Lebowski, played by Jeff Bridges. Lebowski insists upon being referred to as “The Dude.” An unemployed stoner, bowler and ex-activist, the Dude is mistaken for a millionaire of the same name. Intruders pee on his beloved rug, which “really tied the room together.” The Dude and his bowling friends, Walter and Donny, are drawn into an investigation involving the other Lebowski’s wife.

The movie played to a full audience of approximately 200 attendees, according to Lainey Smith, who works at the concession stand in The Lyric. Crowds laughed raucously and yelled quotes sporadically, clapping during some of the movie’s best-known moments. Such moments included the appearance of Jesus Quintana, a rival bowler and pederast, licking a bowling ball. White Russians were also sold and drew long lines prior to the movie’s screening.

The movie screening was Michael Putlack’s brainchild. Putlack is general manager of the Big Lebowski and a Lebowski achiever.

“We love the Big Lebowski,” Putlack said. “What is not to love? It just makes sense to celebrate.”

 Moviegoers had their own reasons for attending.

“I have seen it four times and I have never seen the ending,” Kim Stenson said.

 Stenson likes the overall message.

“It has interpretations if you dive into it. It is a metaphor for life,” Stenson said.

Some think the movie is the epitome of perfection, including Erik Wunder, who noted that every now and then something hits all the right notes, including “the dialogue, casting, the irreverence for everything social,” Wunder said.

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  It is a metaphor for life,” Kim Stenson– attendee

“It just goes off the wall,” Wunder said, likening the zaniness to “a good ping-pong ball.”

 Wunder also noted the movie’s broad appeal, saying that “you cannot not like it, even if you got shit for brains.”

 For attendee Nathan Harper, there are a multitude of reasons to like Lebowski, including “infinite quotability.”

“The Dude’s sort of subversive take on proper culture and willingness to be himself regardless of audience,” Harper said.

Harper said this is the sixth or seventh time he has seen the movie. He even rented out the Lyric’s old location on his 30th birthday to specifically screen the movie.

For some, the movie’s message is even simpler.

“I mean, the Dude abides,” said attendee Drew Smith, referring to one of the movie’s most oft-quoted lines and the protagonist’s easy-going ethos. “That is the only answer.” 

 Putlack thinks that the Dude’s appeal fuels the movie’s popularity.

“I think it is because everyone sees a little of the Dude in themselves,” Putlack said. “Everyone has a little bit of that slacker attitude and slacker mystique. The Dude, he is an everyday hero. He is a hero that does not wear a cape. At times, he can seem really selfish and stuff, but he has a really good heart. He has a sense of morality.”

Fun fact:

According to IMDB, the word “fuck” or variations thereof is used 292 times in the movie.

Putlack has his own favorite quotes, he said: “I do not bowl on Shomer Shabbos is a good one.” 

Collegian reporter Nick Botkin can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com. His Twitter handle is @dudesosad.