We’ve been fond of Jeff Bridges ever since his Gee Your Hair Smells Terrific days in the second King Kong movie (which also “introduced” Jessica Lange – oh, nevermind, it’s too complicated to explain). We loved him as the Dude in The Big Lebowski, and he richly deserved that Oscar for playing that super drunk guy in Crazy Heart (although we never really understood what he saw in Maggie Gyllenhaal, but then again he was drunk most of the time).
So we were kind of surprised when we got a press release inviting us to a private screening of his “new short film,” The White Russian:
“Today, Kahlúa, the classic rum and coffee liqueur, announced that it has joined forces with Academy Award-winning actor Jeff Bridges to release The White Russian, a Kahlúa Productions short film honoring the classic cocktail. Bridges, who narrates and stars in the short film, recounts an adventure-filled story with twists and turns for the characters, all while sipping on a classic White Russian cocktail.”
The White Russian, of course, was the Dude's signature drink, although he called it the Caucasian.
This announcement confused and, we must say, disappointed us a little bit. We know that film and TV stars sometimes do this kind of stuff in Europe or Asia to make a buck, but Bridges is shilling Kahlua right here in our own backyard? I mean, he’ll show up at a screening party to hang out and drink milky cocktails with a nobody like me and, even worse, a bunch of ironically tattooed and mustachioed hipsters?
Dude, I hope Kahlua is paying you a lot for this gig.
We didn’t see The White Russian listed on Bridges’ IMDB page, which revealed that he “is described as being an extremely laid-back guy.”
Yeah, we know. But, starring in a film about a cocktail made with Kahlua, vodka and cream? (You can watch it here.) The film runs about four minutes long (think long, arty commercial), with Bridges appearing onscreen for just one minute of that. Much of it is shot in a Serge Leone-esque desert landscape, “it musta been back in ’73 or ’74,” until ol’ Jeff appears around minute two, sitting in a bar stirring his White Russian.
The press release goes on: “As the key ingredient behind one of the most popular classic cocktails, and as a point of conversation for so many pop-culture moments, the brand is on a crusade to inspire retro experiences and drinking occasions – the very heart of the Kahlúa brand.”
So maybe that’s it – no one has really been into White Russians since the ‘70s (other than that Big Lebowski bump), which was probably the heyday of Bridges’ life (see King Kong and fabulous hair, above), so perhaps nostalgia is driving this project for him. He’s remembering those days he hung with Nolte and Busey in the Canyon and they all got wasted on White Russians.
“There are few classic cocktails that resonate as powerfully across generations as the White Russian made with Kahlúa and we wanted to partner with a fellow icon like Jeff for this film to showcase the importance of a timeless classic,” says Brian Mequet, vice president, rum and liqueurs, Pernod Ricard USA, parent company of Kahlua, in the release.
But, “The debut of The White Russian film represents a return to the brand’s heritage in the world of classic cocktails”? We don’t think so. Despite a certain novelty retro appeal for boomers, millennials and Lebowski fans, we don’t see any kind of lasting resurgence of the White Russian. The drink is kind of like the birthday cake of cocktails – sweet and thick like white cake frosting, something you might have a craving for once a year. Or once a decade. These days people are more reasonable and tend to prefer their vodka with tonic, cranberry, a little olive juice, or more vodka.
So kids, don’t let this clever marketing ploy fool you: the ’70s weren’t really that awesome, and you shouldn’t base your drinking preferences on what was popular then. That decade was full of a lot of bullshit like gasoline shortages, Pinto hatchbacks, Dorothy Hamill haircuts, polyester pant suits, avocado-colored kitchen appliances, Olivia Newton-John albums, President Gerry Ford and “pet” rocks.
After the private screening on September 9, the film “will be supported online via a series of static and dynamic digital content to be posted across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest, and offline through retro experiences for fans across the country,” the release says. In other words, it’s just the kickoff for a Kahlua marketing campaign.
“The White Russian is one of the most popular classic cocktails and it's seeing a massive revival right now, so to work with Kahlúa on this project is great timing,” Bridges says in the press release. “As a short film entirely inspired by a simple classic cocktail, this story is creative, enigmatic and beautifully shot.”
Dude. Duuuuuude. Is this how you abide?