LOS ANGELES — There were bowling pins, bathrobes, white Russians, and even The Dude himself.
Jeff Bridges and his band performed Friday at Lebowski Fest, but Joel and Ethan Coen's 1998 campy crime comedy "The Big Lebowski" was still the night's biggest star.
Fans of the Raymond Chandler-flavored film filled the Wiltern Theater in midtown Los Angeles to capacity for the annual celebration of the cult classic, which has been staged around the country since 2002. The two-day festival continues Saturday with a costumed bowling party.
"It's the people here that are so awesome," said Steve Lewis, a veteran of seven Lebowski Fests. "It's a community."
The 37-year-old made his own Army dog tags to meticulously recreate one of John Goodman's costumes from the film. Lewis traveled to festivals in New York and Louisville with his friend J.D. Lloyd, who searched eBay to find the exact sweater Bridges wears in the film. ("That's a real Pendleton," Lewis said. "That was expensive.") Lloyd has been to 11 Lebowski Fests and estimates he's seen the film more than 100 times.
Matt Goforth, a bartender working the event in costume, said he'd been looking forward to the shift for six months.
"First of all, I knew it was going to be a good crowd. Second of all, it's a fantastic movie. Thirdly, Jeff Bridges' band is amazing," Goforth said. "It's fun. I've had my picture taken maybe 35 times. It's just a great atmosphere."
The Wiltern Theater was decorated with inflatable bowling pins and the drink menu featured white Russians — renamed Wiltern Caucasians, perhaps in political protest — "made with Ralphs half-and -half." The film opens with the Dude writing a check for 69 cents to buy half-and-half from a Ralphs supermarket to make his favorite cocktail.