Eighteen years after its release, the cult classic dark comedy, The Big Lebowski is getting a spin-off, featuring one of its most beloved side characters in the leading role.
A recent announcement revealed that there is a film currently shooting under the title, Going Places. This dramatic comedy is inspired by the 1974 French picture, Les Valseuses. It will star John Turturro, Bobby Cannavale, Audrey Tautou, and Susan Sarandon. The most notable thing about this movie, however, is that aside from being a remake, it will serve as a spin-off to the popular comedy, The Big Lebowski.
Directed, produced, and written by the acclaimed sibling pair of Joel and Ethan Coen, the 1998 film has an extremely ardent and enthusiastic fanbase. Aficionados of the movie hold conventions and make memorabilia and fan works. They even created a religion surrounding its main character called “The Church of Latter-Day Dude.” As such, many people have been clamoring for a follow-up to the cult classic.
One of those individuals just so happens to be one of the actors from the original film, John Turturro. Long before his recent success in the HBO miniseries, The Night Of, he was famous for portraying the flamboyant bowler, Jesus (JEE-zus) Quintana. Although the character only appears in two scenes, he left a huge impression on fans, giving the film some of its most quotable lines like, “I don’t f***ing care! It don’t matter to Jesus!” and “You said it, man. Nobody f***s with the Jesus.”
Turturro has spoken about his desire to return to the character for a long time. Part of that likely comes from the fact that when he initially signed on for the movie, he believed that Jesus would play a bigger role in the plot. Although he was disappointed that that was not the case, the Coen brothers (with whom Turturro had worked previously on Miller’s Crossing and Barton Fink) gave him a lot of freedom with the character, which is part of what made him so enjoyable. It’s evident that Turturro had plenty of fun in the role, given his want to play him again.
Turturro had lobbied for a spin-off featuring Jesus hard, and many members of the fanbase have supported him. Jeff Bridges – who played the protagonist Jeffrey “The Dude” Lebowski from the original – has gone on record that he would be open to having a cameo in the project. The biggest roadblock for the film, however, are the creators of the character themselves. The Coen brothers have stated that they had no interest in returning to The Big Lebowski. In their eyes, the story was complete, and adding onto it would be unnecessary and possibly harmful.
However, with this announcement, the spin-off is all but inevitable. Whether this means that the Coen brothers changed their mind on the prospect, or the decision was out of their hands remains unclear; according to sources, they will have little to nothing to do with the project. What we do know is that this idea has become a reality, and the reactions from fans are running the gamut from excitement to apprehension.
I don’t want to turn this article into an opinion piece, but I would be remiss if I didn’t say this: I am a HUGE fan of The Big Lebowski. It is my number one favorite movie of all-time. The writing, the comedy, the acting, the direction, and the characters are all superb. I have a Big Lebowski quote for every occasion. I could watch the film a hundred times and still enjoy it; that’s how much I love it.
Therefore, you might expect that I would’ve been blown away when I heard this news. However, that was not the case. The reality is that I somewhat agree with the Coen brothers’ position. The Big Lebowski is a great film on its own, and I’m afraid that Going Places might tarnish its reputation if it turns out to be bad. I don’t want what happened with The Matrix Revolutions or the Star Wars prequels to happen to my favorite film. I doubt that the movie will be that bad, but it’s still a concern. In addition, I have some reservations about the fact that it’s based on another film. It seems like this isn’t a legitimate spin-off of the original movie; just a remake of a different movie that happens to have a character from The Big Lebowski in it.
With that said, I still intend to see this spin-off, and I’m still hopeful that it will be good. There seem to be some talented people behind it, and if John Turturro is allowed the same freedom that he had in the first film, seeing Jesus Quintana again will be fantastic. I’m waiting with baited breath for more news about this project because I hope that it becomes a hit. If the makers of Going Places can capture even a fraction of what made The Big Lebowski such a fun film, then all I can say is: The New abides.