So there’s this guy named the Dude, and some dudes break into his apartment and pee on his rug, so the Dude, an LA burnout whose real name is Jeffrey Lebowski, goes to find the other Jeffrey Lebowski, a rich guy the intruder dudes were actually looking for, so he can get him to replace the soiled rug, which totally tied the room together.
That’s the basic premise of “The Big Lebowski,’’ the Coen Brothers’ 1998 stoner caper, which also involves bowling, nihilism, a kidnapping, and many, many White Russians – a cocktail whose parts combine more cogently than the film’s plot points.
To the uninitiated, “The Big Lebowski’’ probably doesn’t sound like the sort of cinematic watershed that would translate to an enduring cultural phenomenon. But the movie has become just that. And we’re not talking about action figures and keychains, although they’re yours for the ordering.
The film – which was released to mixed reviews and spent all of six weeks in theaters, barely recouping its $15 million budget – has spawned a vibrant subculture that draws both scholars and slackers to the fold.