Distributed By: TriStar Pictures
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
When football season begins, I watch games on television. Sometimes I listen to them on the radio. But I can in no way be considered an avid fan of the sport. Sure, I know things about how the game is played or who is currently playing. I even know some things about past players. But I’m not considered an avid fan. However, when it comes to football movies, it would seem that I have watched quite a few. For me, one movie in particular stands out. It’s a movie I can watch every single time it’s on – the uplifting film called Rudy.
Rudy is based on the true story of Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger. Rudy had always loved football and dreamed of playing for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish college football team. Considered too small for football by most, Rudy nevertheless exhibited great heart and determination for the sport, eventually playing defense for his high school football team. His dreams of playing football for Notre Dame were laughed at by family members and discouraged by high school faculty who pointed out that Rudy’s grades would never earn him a spot at Notre Dame.
Heartbroken, Rudy settled on a life working at the local steel mill with his family and dreaming of an opportunity to play with Notre Dame until disaster struck. Rudy’s best friend, Pete, the only man who believed in Rudy’s dreams, was killed in an accident at the mill. Pete’s death inspires Rudy to pursue his dream and Rudy heads out to South Bend to find out how he can get into Notre Dame College. It is suggested that if he applies for Holy Cross Junior College, works hard and gets good grades, he might be accepted to Notre Dame eventually. Rudy puts forth every effort to achieve his goals, studying hard, getting a job working on the Notre Dame football field and sleeping in the grounds department office at night.
Eventually, all of Rudy’s hard work pays off when he is finally accepted into Notre Dame and earns a spot on the football practice team. Putting forth his best effort, Rudy helps the regular players practice for their upcoming games, hoping to earn the opportunity to “suit up.” His drive and determination earns him great respect amongst his teammates and even the regulars begin to see Rudy as an asset to their team. It is through the effort of these regular players that Rudy is given a chance to suit up and eventually play on field in the last game of his senior year.
The movie stars Sean Astin in one of the greatest roles (the role of Sam in the Lord of the Rings trilogy not withstanding) of his career. Astin does an excellent job portraying Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger. The character’s heart and determination shine through in Astin’s portrayal and you get the feeling that this role may have been just a tad bit personal for the actor. Rudy contains a variety of well-known actors. Ned Beatty plays Daniel Ruettiger, Sr., a hard working family man with a love for Notre Dame football. Charles Dutton is Fortune, head of the Notre Dame football ground crew, friend and supporter of Rudy. Robert Prosky makes an appearance as Father Cavanaugh, the priest who stands by Rudy, offering him advice on how to get in to Notre Dame and standing by as a counselor when Rudy is at his lowest. Even the real Daniel Ruettiger gets into the act with a cameo as a fan in the stands during Rudy’s final game.
Rudy is the inspiring true story of one man’s triumph over insurmountable odds to achieve his lifelong dream. The movie is uplifting and contains a message – no one’s dreams are completely out of reach as long as you have the drive and determination to persevere. The movie also gives us another message in the form of a reminder from Fortune when Rudy gripes about his hard work not coming to fruition. Fortune tells Rudy that even if he doesn’t make the football team, he must remember that he has just earned an education that others would die for at one of the highest ranked learning centers in the country. Sometimes, even if we fall short of our dreams, it is the road we have traveled to achieve them that earns us the biggest prize.
The Special Edition DVD version of Rudy contains some enjoyable special features. There is a documentary with the real Daniel Ruettiger giving viewers further insight into various scenes throughout the movie. In a short featurette, Sean Astin discusses what it was like to portray Rudy. There is a quick documentary about the making of the film, featuring director David Anspaugh, talent files, an isolated musical score and more.
Football fans will be happy to know that there are some truly amazing football scenes in this film. The scenes look incredibly real and one wonders just how many bruises the actors were sporting when they finally walked away from the movie. Some of the rather hard hits will actually have you cringing and some of the scenes in which the teams are playing an actual game will have you perched on the edge of your seat. However, don’t be fooled – this is less of a football movie and more of a movie about human determination and spirit. Rudy will definitely appeal to football fans, but any movie aficionado will find something to love about this movie. I can’t help but watch it every time it’s on. I know exactly what is going to happen, having seen it more than a dozen times, and yet the film still affects me the same way each time. Rudy is an amazingly inspirational true story that every movie lover should see.