Over the years, the 1998 tongue-in-cheek ‘crime comedy’ The Big Lebowski has become something of a cult favourite. That’s despite its initial poor performance at the box office. In fact, so popular has it become that the National Film Registry now preserves the film, as selected by the Library of Congress.
Given its place in popular culture, it’s possibly of no surprise to movie fans around the world that a spin-off to The Big Lebowski has finally been confirmed this summer. The Jesus Rolls is set to star John Turturro once again, who also wrote and directed the movie. The storyline follows the adventures of Jesus Quintana, also known as ‘The Jesus’. It will be released on the big screen sometime next year, but the jury is out as to whether it will receive significant fanfare or simply leave fans of the original scratching their heads.
Whether it’s the zany, stoner-film-style characters that broke previous social norms, the laugh-a-minute dream sequences or the hugely popular soundtrack, The Big Lebowski has enjoyed an enduring legacy in the post-Millennium era. There’s a passionate collective of fans of the film that call themselves ‘achievers’, while there’s even a religion devoted solely to spreading the life philosophy of the film’s central character, called Dudeism. Through the years, this ‘religion’ has enticed more than 220,000 ‘Dudeist Priests’ to join from around the world. Many more also play the online slot machine at Wink Slots, inspired by the movie and featuring a host of special features and visuals from the film itself. Characters feature as the symbols for this game, with old yellow Car of The Dude featuring as the wild card.
Can ‘The Jesus Rolls’ take The Big Lebowski’ to new levels?
So, with hundreds of thousands of fans and followers still transfixed by The Big Lebowski, the question remains, will a spin-off like The Jesus Rolls – originally called Going Places – have the desired impact at the box office? First and foremost, it’s important to note that the new movie is not an official sequel. Instead, Turturro (above) managed to secure the approval from the Coen Brothers – who have no part in the spin-off – to bring Jesus Quintana back to life on the big screen.
For those of you unfamiliar with the character, he is the Cuban American character that played against the Dude’s bowling team in the original movie. Many fans of the original movie say that Quintana should have had more than the three minutes of hilarious screen time that he was allowed, which is one of the main reasons why Turturro – who also wrote and directed Fading Gigolo in 2014 – has opted to bring him back to life.
According to Vice Entertainment, Turturro’s own synopsis of the spin-off is that The Jesus Rolls is a ‘transgressive’ movie focusing on the ‘stupidity of men’ that try too hard to get to grips with ‘the mystery of women’. As for the official synopsis of the sequel, it describes a ‘trio of misfits’ that begins with a ‘sexually-charged dynamic’ before evolving into a ‘surprising love story’. If that wasn’t enough to leave you scratching your head – but wanting more at the same time – Pete Davidson stars in the spin-off too!
The Jesus Rolls looks like being the closest we’re ever going to get to a Lebowski sequel. There’s no doubt that a film based on one of the original’s weirdest characters is somewhat strange, but it’s intriguing at the same time. Turturro’s spin-off is almost certain to be like Marmite – you’ll either love or hate it!
Other successful movie spin-offs for Turturro to take heart from
Although the act of removing a much-loved character from one popular environment and placing them in a completely different one is more commonplace with television characters like Frasier and The Simpsons, there are several movie spin-offs that have successfully demonstrated a new dimension of popular supporting movie characters, thus helping to expand the reach of familiar movie franchises.
Long-standing fans of the Jackass television series will enjoy watching Johnny Knoxville in a completely different role, playing an ageing-yet-playful grandfather who takes his grandson on a road trip across the States. How is Bad Grandpa a spin-off of Jackass? Knoxville adopts the hidden camera prankster theme in this movie too. Although Knoxville’s character, Irving Zisman, carries out somewhat milder tricks of the trade than in previous Jackass movies – largely due to the fact he has a young grandson by his side – it’s a light-hearted spin-off of the Jackass series that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
The Rocky franchise of movies is arguably one of the most iconic of all time. So, it raised some eyebrows when Creed was announced as a spin-off, based on the son of Rocky Balboa’s first rival, Apollo Creed. Ironically, Adonis Johnson seeks guidance and training from none other than Rocky, himself, to follow in Johnson’s father’s footsteps and achieve champion status. The doubters were soon appeased once they watched it, as Creed quickly became recognised as one of the most emotive spin-offs to reinvigorate an iconic movie franchise in decades.
This Is 40
The rom-com, Knocked Up was one of the more successful releases in 2007. So, when it was announced by Judd Apatow that a spin-off had been written and shot based on one couple within that film, viewers were right to be sceptical. However, they needn’t have worried as This Is 40 is a heartfelt ‘dramedy’ that focuses on Pete (Paul Rudd) and Debbie (Leslie Mann) who have been through stresses and strains on their way to the ‘big 4-0’. With failing businesses, bickering children and never-ending money troubles, it makes for a scarily accurate depiction – at times – of life at 40.
Hollywood really has provided us with some fantastic spin-offs through the years. Whether it’s revamps of old franchises, an expansion of a franchise that’s a current hit with popular culture or merely a snapshot of one particular character that the world has taken to its hearts, spin-offs give movie directors the creative freedom to go wherever they want, keeping things fresh on and off-screen.