The Dude fanatic is a recognizable type in movie-geek circles: skilled in the art of mixing "Caucasians," attired in shorts, sandals and a robe (though, on special occasions, he has been known to dress up as a giant bowling pin), given to shouting the phrase "Shut the f--k up, Donny!" at the slightest provocation.
Such men (they're mostly men) have been gathering at something called Lebowski Fest since 2002, four short years after the film they adore, 'The Big Lebowski,' was released, to lukewarm reviews and blah box-office. The first meeting took place at a small bowling alley in Louisville and attracted just 150 peope. Nine years on, it's blossomed into a nationwide movement, with events taking place annually in cities all over the country. And while there have been plenty of exciting incidents over the years (Jeff Bridges, who plays the Dude in the film, turned up at the Los Angeles Fest in 2005, for example), 2011 was going to top them all.
This year's convention coincided with the release of 'The Big Lebowski' on Blu-ray (free copies of which we will be giving away. To enter, see details below), and to celebrate, the stars of the movie -- Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, Julianne Moore, John Turturro -- came to New York City's Hammerstein Ballroom to participate in a loud, confusing, but ultimately entertaining Q+A session in front of almost 2,000 fans.
The night began with arrivals -- not on a carpet but on a red rug. To honor 'Lebowski,' Universal scrapped the traditional floor decor used at release parties and instead went with something that really tied the room together: a red oriental rug, not unlike the one that belonged to the Dude in the film (by the way, a gallery of the even can be found here).
The Dude himself didn't last long on the red rug -- he was whisked away after an alleged security snafu with an unruly fan -- but John Goodman, who plays Vietnam vet Walter Sobchak, lingered to offer some thoughts on why the movie has such staying power.
"I think it's the script -- it's the perfect storm of casting, because the plot certainly doesn't mean anything," he said. "I guess people just like to get high and watch it." Asked what line from the film he hears most, Goodman said it was the eternal "Shut the f--k up, Donnie."
Julianne Moore gave a more surprising answer to the same question. "'The Dude abides' is what you hear all the time, but personally, I like, 'I'll suck your c--k for $1,000,'" she said, laughing.
Inside, there were hundreds of costumed 'Lebowski' characters: lots of Dudes, even more Walters, and one Jesus, complete with bowling ball and shammy. The real-life inspiration for the Dude, Jeff Dowd, was also in attendance.
Clark Collis of Entertainment Weekly led the Q&A, which succeeded despite a distracting echo and the even more distracting shouting from a few well-oiled fans. Bridges led the audience in an impromptu meditation session, Goodman asked if anyone had a VHS copy of 'Logjammin,' the D-level porno shown in the film, and Buscemi complained about the Coen Brothers' decision to (SPOILER ALERT) kill off his character, Donny. "I can't believe they did that to me," he said, "after being put in the wood chipper." (If you don't get that reference, we won't spoil it for you by explaining.)
After the Q+A came a screening of the new Blu-ray edition of 'The Big Lebowski.' Sipping on White Russians, the assembled Dude fanatics yelled along with their favorite lines and cheered any time Walter said "f--k." Looking around at the sold-out crowd, it was hard to believe that this movie had made only $17 million at the box office.
Eventually, the film came to an end. Unfortunately for those still in attendance, there were no In-and-Out Burgers in the area (or, on this coast for that matter) to go to afterward, so most of them likely went home, listened to some Creedence and passed out on their rug.
Moviefone's giveaway is open only to legal residents of the 50 United States and the District of Columbia who are 18 and older. To enter, please leave a comment per the instructions on this page. The comment must be left before 6:00pm Eastern Time on August 18, 2011. You may enter once per email address, and six winners will be selected. One winner will receive the following item: (1) Big Lebowski Blu-ray DVD (2) Dude Action Figure Click Here for complete Official Rules.