Monday, April 2, 2012

The Big Lebowski

The Big Lebowski
last seen @ Landmark Loews Jersey Theater, Jersey City, NJ

I've always liked bowling. I think it gets mocked sometimes by some people who don't think it's a "real" sport, like say, tennis or golf. If nothing else, it requires a certain amount of arm strength and wrist and hand dexterity, and not everybody has that. It looks effortless, but it's not. And honestly, who cares if it's "legitimate" or not? Plenty of people enjoy it and it's fun.

Don't know if they still do it, but Wide World of Sports used to show the Pro Bowlers Tour on Saturdays, and as a kid I'd watch it fairly often. I'd always root for the left-handed bowlers, me being a lefty and all, although they were pretty rare. I couldn't tell you what exactly kept me watching bowling on TV. It's not like I aspired to become a pro bowler myself. As far as sporting ambitions go, mine was to play right field for the Mets. I guess it was just something to watch on a Saturday afternoon before or after the Game of the Week on NBC. 

The last time I went bowling was a few years ago, as part of an office Christmas party held in a bowling alley in south Brooklyn. I almost wasn't gonna go, but there was this girl that I liked who was going too, so I figured what the hell. She bragged that she was an excellent bowler, and she was pretty good, though I don't remember how she fared. I do remember seeing her get hit on by some drunk co-worker, though.

Whenever I try to bowl, I always think back to watching all those pros on TV and I try and do what they do, although as a lefty I have to reverse everything. I don't think much about things like putting enough spin on the ball or proper footing or anything like that, though; I just try to put as much power behind my release and aim for the two or the four pin and pray I don't get a split that's too wide for me to convert for a spare.

And you know, after all these years, I'm still not entirely certain how scoring works in bowling. Every time I think I've got it figured out, I get tripped up again. I don't remember how we would do it whenever my friends and I would go bowling in high school. We didn't have automatic computer screens keeping track of the scores then.

I saw The Big Lebowski when it first came out and I wasn't that impressed. Didn't hate it, but at the time it struck me as silly-but-lesser Coen Brothers material and  I quickly forgot about it. Years later, of course, I learned of the cult that has grown around the movie in general and Jeff Bridges' character in particular, and sooner or later I knew I would have to see it again in order to reassess it.

Now that I have, my opinion hasn't changed much. It's absolutely funny and enjoyable, but I think what soured me on it the first time was that I lost the thread of the plot halfway through and never recovered it. I've read that Lebowski is a modern spin on The Big Sleep, and maybe that's true, but as far as screwball Coen movies go, I'd still take Raising Arizona or O Brother Where Art Thou? over Lebowski. It does have a killer soundtrack, though; I'd forgotten about that.

This was one of, if not the biggest crowds for a film at the Loews that I'd ever been to.  The auditorium looked close to full, even on the sides. Fortunately, I arrived early and got a great aisle seat up front. I saw at least two replica Lebowski bowling shirts worn by a couple of dudes, and I suspect there were a lot of people attending the Loews for the first time. Wonder if they'll come back?

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