Lebowski Fest: Jeff Bridges, Fans Celebrate Film

Pam WrightLife

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Trekkies have nothing on the Dude-ers.

Hundreds packed the Wiltern Theater in midtown Los Angeles Friday to pay homage to Joel and Ethan Coen's 1998 cult film The Big Lebowski.

Even the Dude himself, Jeff Bridges, performed with his band.

The theater was decked out with inflatable bowling pins and the drink menu featured white Russians "made with Ralphs half-and -half," in honor of the film's opening scene when the Dude writes a check for 69 cents to buy half-and-half from a Ralphs supermarket to make his favorite drink.

This is the13th year of the annual two-day festival that celebrates the Dude, bowling, white bathrobes and White Russians.

Fan Steve Lewis has never missed a Lebowski Fest.

"It's the people here that are so awesome," said Lewis, who says he has seen the film more than 100 times. "It's a community."

The 37-year-old went so far as to make his own Army dog tags to recreate one of John Goodman's costumes from the film. Lewis has been to 11 festivals and has traveled to festivals in New York and Louisville with his friend J.D. Lloyd, who searched eBay to find the exact sweater Bridges wears in the film.

"That's a real Pendleton," Lewis said. "That was expensive."

Connor Linnerooth, 20, who traveled from North Dakota to celebrate his birthday at the fest, wore a red bodysuit and carried oversized scissors like the character that terrorizes the Dude in his dreams.

"Lebowski, he is a very cool guy," he said, speaking in character. "I love the movie and I'm a big fan of it, and I really wanted to be around other people who are also big fans of the movie."

Matt Goforth tended bar in costume and said he's been looking forward to the event for months.

"First of all, I knew it was going to be a good crowd. Second of all, it's a fantastic movie. Thirdly, Jeff Bridges' band is amazing," Goforth said. "It's fun. I've had my picture taken maybe 35 times. It's just a great atmosphere."

Friday night ended with a screening of the film, peppered with fans yelling out lines and cheering for favorite scenes.

Saturday's event featured a costumed bowling party.

Mike Sullivan, a four-time festival-goer who says he's memorized the movie, has a theory about the fest's success.

"What you got here," he said, "is a bunch of pot-smoking hippies having a good time."

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Pam Wright