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Movies, dining and things to do / Spokane and North Idaho

‘Lebowski’ turns 20: Some things improve with age

On Feb. 26, 1998, the Coen brothers movie "The Big Lebowski" premiered in New York City.

Imagine: "The Big Lebowski" is 20 years old.

The Coens had just started getting mainstream recognition, largely because of a little 1996 movie called "Fargo" that ended up getting three Oscar nominations and one win (for Best Original Screenplay) plus — thank you, Nathan Weinbender — one win for Best Actress (Frances McDormand).

And maybe based on how much I liked "Fargo," I was initially disappointed with "Lebowski." I felt it was just too weird, too disconnected, too much of a film type than an actual film in and of itself.

But the years passed. And one night my wife, for charity, auctioned off a movie night for Gonzaga Law School students featuring "Lebowski." The screening was at the Magic Lantern, and I tagged along.

And this time I got it. Everything worked, from Jeff Bridges' ultra-Dudeness to John Goodman's bouts with PTSD, from the drug-laden escapades to the bowling (especially featuring John Turturro's character of Jesus). And it appears I'm not alone in my re-evaluation.

Which has happened at other times, too. The first time I saw "Blazing Saddles" I didn't laugh once. The second time I saw it, barely a month later, I couldn't stop laughing. The first time I saw "Dazed and Confused," I gave the film a two-and-a-half-star rating. I would now up that by a full star.

How many movies do we see that affect us different ways depending on our moods, the theatrical situation we experience (like that guy who chews his popcorn almost louder than he laughs at corny jokes) or our heightened expectations? And how many movies benefit in the opposite way?

I need to take a poll sometime.