Released in theaters in March of 1998 to middling box office returns and somewhat mixed reviews, Joel & Ethan Coen’s The Big Lebowski has since become a seminal cult classic. The story, concerning a lackadaisical stoner/bowling enthusiast drawn into a convoluted kidnapping plot (this is the Coen brothers, after all) has since gone on to inspire books, specialty stores, a religion and conventions that have evolved into massive, full-on festivals. While the understated performance by Jeff Bridges as The Dude is sublime, John Goodman’s portrayal of Walter, his irate best friend and bowling partner, ends up the true fan favorite.
Based on screenwriter John Milius, whose credits include Apocalypse Now, Conan the Barbarian and Red Dawn, Walter stands in sharp contrast to The Dude. Walter is loud, impulsive, and consistently wrong yet never willing to admit it, or even seemingly consider the possibility. Still, with The Dude’s boundless ability to shrug it all off and say “f*ck it,” Walter’s desire to constantly “draw a line in the sand” serves as a driving point for much of the film’s plot.