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Happy Anniversary, Dude: The Big Lebowski Turns 15

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Wednesday marks the 15th anniversary of the release of The Big Lebowski, Joel and Ethan Cohen’s brilliant, semi-absurdist comedy about a slacker in early-1990s Los Angeles (Jeff Bridges, in one of his most memorable characterizations). There has been a lot of scholarly analysis picking apart this intricate, often-puzzling film, much of which we summarized here. But in his anniversary-timed appreciation in New York magazine, Josh Gondelman points out a telling detail that had, up until now, escaped our notice:

A commonly cited but still unbelievable bit of Lebowski trivia is that the Dude never bowls onscreen. The close reader in me wants to take it as a comment on the film’s theme of people not being who they seem. The real Big Lebowski is not as wealthy as he pretends to be. The menacing nihilists are a collection of German porn actors and misfits. The Dude, who attaches his identity to his bowling league, never rolls a ball.

Hmmm. Interesting observation, although we’d argue that the Dude is exactly who he seems to be. But the issue is worth discussing over a couple of White Russians.