By Abby Ho
When you're in the same room as Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender and Patton Oswalt, you've gotta pinch yourself to check if you're awake and not in an acid dream. Thankfully for me... the only acid trip happening was on stage in Jason Reitman's Live Read series for "The Big Lebowski."
Tonight (July 24) is the second time director Jason Reitman ("Juno," "Thank you for Smoking") has produced a live table read performance of "The Big Lebowski." But this time around, in Montreal during the Just For Laughs Festival -- it was the first time he was hosting the event in Reitman's hometown.
Michael Fassbender showed up on stage to a standing ovation (looking hella sexy) dressed in a robe, white shorts and with a white Russian in hand to fill the flip flops as The Dude. Patton Oswalt shone as Walt, and was joined by Martin Starr as Jesus, Mike Judge as the stranger, Olivia Munn as Bunny, T.J. Miller as Brant, Mae Whitman as Donny, Jennifer Lawrence as Maude and last but not least - Dennis Quaid as Big Lebowski.
Even with this incredible calibre of talent, I went into the Olympus Theatre skeptical that a stage full of actors without the support of beautiful visuals of the Coen Brothers classic, cult movie could do the film justice. But I was very happily mistaken.
The cast was incredibly energetic and the crowd responded with endless cheers for Mike Judge's spot on Sam Elliot impression, with a tiny touch of Hank Hill twang. So good. Fassbender carried the read with his charm and talent... continuously lighting "cigarettes" on stage -- fully engrossed in character, while Jennifer Lawrence sat quietly beside him rolling these stage cigarettes. Gotta love the Magneto and Mystique connection.
The table read was so perfect, you'd almost think it was rehearsed... Save for a tiny hiccup when Olivia Munn started reading Maude's lines -- following her incorrectly highlighted script page. This lead the cast to scramble and restart, laughing and talking over one another with Munn passing pages to Lawrence and Oswalt... Jokingly suggesting the ladies were method acting.
Patton Oswalt's, um, Walt was as hugely hilarious and equally nuanced as John Goodman's on-screen portrayal. Flawless, hilarious and charming as hell. Both he and Fassbender looked like they were having a blast giving high fives and trying to hold back laughs. It was so refreshing to see Fassbender -- normally a very serious actor, even in the "X-Men" series -- letting loose and keeping toe to toe with so much comedic talent.
T.J. Miller was incredible (as always), playing the Big Lebowski's pushover assistant Brant and a number of supporting roles - bringing the crowd to cheers each and every time, crushing every nihilist and German accent.
Even though the theatre was freezing cold (easy on the A.C. next year), "The Big Lebowski" table read kept the heat and humor up. And if you were there and don't agree -- "Shut the f--k up, Donny." So funny, so good.