When The Big Lebowski was released on March 8, 1998, the modest Coen brothers comedy was splashed on 1,207 screens and pulled in a mere $5.3 million in its first weekend. By the end of its run in theaters, it had made a less-than-memorable $17.4 million. In other words, no one in their right minds would’ve expected that folks would still be discussing, parsing, and obsessively re-watching the film a decade later, let alone dressing up like the movie’s characters at Lebowski Fests. But, as Jeff Bridges’ aging hippie bowler once said, “Yeah, well, you know, that’s just, like, your opinion, man.”
The new documentary The Achievers is just additional proof (if any more were needed) that Lebowski has become a bona fide American phenomenon — the Rocky Horror Picture Show of the new millennium. Directed by Eddie Chung, the lo-fi, labor-of-love documentary made its debut at this year’s San Francisco Independent Film Festival and has since played at a small handful of theaters. But most fans of John Goodman’s Walter, Steve Buscemi’s Donny, and John Turturro’s Jesus (“Nobody f—s with the Jesus!”) won’t be able to get their first taste of The Achievers until its release on DVD by Sony on October 27.
While the Dude himself, Jeff Bridges, does pop up in the film — interviewed during his appearance at a 2005 Lebowski Fest, where he jams onstage with his band (sounding a bit like John Hiatt) and loans one of his jelly sandals to a fan to try on and experience the Dudeness first hand — the film focuses on the fans who’ve turned the movie into a cult sensation. If you’re one of them and can quote the film by heart and agree that there’s no bowling on Shabbas and that a rug can really tie a room together, then why not put on your favorite old bathrobe, kick back with a White Russian, and check out these clips from The Achievers…
An interview with one of the film’s bit players:
The Dude himself:
Now let’s hear from you. Are you a Lebowski fanatic? Will you be checking out The Achievers? What’s your favorite line/scene/character in the film?