COMMENTARY: Why every FAU student needs to see The Big Lebowski at Living Room Theaters

Dylan Bouscher

The cult classic The Big Lebowski will be screened at the Living Room Theaters starting June 17 and will run through June 20.
The cult classic “The Big Lebowski” will be screened at the Living Room Theaters starting June 17 and will run through June 20.

Eight-year-olds, fever dreams of bowling, nihilism, a nine-toed woman, a blathering millionaire, and a urine-washed rug await those going to see “The Big Lebowski,” screening exclusively June 17 through June 20 at the Living Room Theaters on FAU’s Boca campus.

The 1998 cult classic was directed by the Academy Award winning Coen Brothers. And if you’re wondering, the movie is more like “Fargo” and “Raising Arizona” than “No Country for Old Men” or “True Grit.” But if you don’t go, you’re missing out on more than a special deal the theater is offering exclusively to students.

After all, no other theater in Florida offers a movie ticket, a slice of pizza, and your choice of beer or wine, for nine dollars, to those with a valid Owl Card. And no other school among the 12 public universities in the Florida State University System has an independent, family-owned campus movie theater that doubles as a lecture hall. So take advantage of FAU’s most unique campus amenity.

The story of “The Big Lebowski,” which unravels like a hard-boiled detective novel, is centered on the doobie-fueled, Jeffrey “The Dude,” Lebowski, or “El Duderino” if you’re not into the whole brevity thing.

The Dude is played by Academy Award winning Actor Jeff Bridges, alongside John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, and John Turturro as the Dude’s iconic bowling teammates, Walter and Donny, and archnemesis, Jesus.

And according to film professor Gerald Sim, who screens the movie in his Film Criticism class, the only rule this movie’s plot follows is to constantly break the rules of storytelling.

“The Big Lebowski seems really confusing, and really random, but it’s really a very coherent film. If you watch it a few times, the characters are really consistent,” Sim says. “The mystery is solved, the detective is really the Dude. You expect someone who is sexy, good at what he does, the Dude is none of those things.”

Sim is right – the Dude spends most of the film chasing justice after his rug is ruined by two criminals who mistake him for a millionaire. Although Sim screens the film so his students can understand how the Coen Brothers are understood by moviegoers, he believes there’s more to learn than that.

“Everybody should see it. It’s culturally and politically relevant, because it says a lot about the 80s and 90s,” Sim says. “When the movie was released, we’d had two decades of rugged individualism, Reaganomics … the critique it constructs of masculinity, the wealthy, and individual achievement, it says something that so many people responded to such a critical film.”

And where Sim thinks people who saw the movie when it was first released are more obsessed with it, Living Room Theaters’ General Manager, Marcia Makley, is hoping the movie draws more traditional-age students than other films screened in her cinema.

“Mostly the students we do see are students in [the Culture and Society] building. There are students on the other end of campus that don’t even know we exist,” Makley says. “So we decided to pick a cult-type film that would appeal to that age demographic, and I took kind of a general temperature with all the employees that are FAU students, see what they thought, and we all agreed that would be a good film.”

To promote the film, Living Room is trying out a new student discount: the nine dollar ticket at 9:00 p.m.  If it works, the new offer could help bring in more business during a down period.

“The 9:00 p.m. showtimes are our slowest times,” Makley says. “It’s the slowest time at any movie theater, unless it’s the weekend.”

Senior film major David Aedo, who has not seen the movie, is already hooked.

“Honestly, that seems like a good deal,” Aedo says.

While student tickets are normally $6.50 for new movies at Living Room Theaters, an extra $2.50 for a beer or wine and a slice of pizza while enjoying a classic is still a steal. If students are looking for a cheap way to see a new movie, the best competing rate is seven miles away, at Paragon Deerfield 8, which offers six dollar tickets to college students, faculty, and staff (with valid school IDs) after 9 p.m., according to their website. FSU’s on-campus Askew Student Life Cinema, however, does offer free movie tickets to students with valid IDs.

And if you’re not convinced enough to watch the Big Lebowski with friends, Living Room manager Marcia Makley still has you covered. The same $9 at 9:00 p.m. promotion that applies to Lebowski, is being offered to students through the summer, for any movie playing at the on-campus theater.

“We know it’s summer and it’s a slow time, but we’d like to be able to do it throughout the year,” Makley says. “So we’re trying to work out the kinks now, while it’s slow, and just see how it goes.”

But you should still abide, and see this movie in our family-owned, on-campus, arthouse theater, which shares its brand and name with only one other location in Portland, Oregon.

“It’s not just the hippies that like it, or the hipsters,” film professor Gerald Sim says. “You can find stock brokers who can quote it.”

Invite someone special to one of the only movies with its own annual film festival, Lebowskifest, and with an appeal as universal as “The Big Lebowski.”

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— IF YOU GO —

WHEN: June 17 to June 20, 9:10 p.m.

WHERE: FAU Boca campus, the Living Room Theaters in the Culture and Society Building

COST: $9