“I’ve been ready for this my whole life.”
The Scoop: 1993 PG, directed by David Anspaugh and starring Sean Astin, Jon Favreau, and Ned Beatty.
Tagline: Sometimes a winner is a dreamer who just won’t quit.
Summary Capsule: A true story of a young man realizing his dream to play football for Notre Dame
Andie’s rating: Win one for the Gipper
Andie’s review: As you might have guess by my reviews of Wildcats and The Replacements, I love football movies. The reason that Rudy is such a great movie is that it’s not just football, it’s a human interest story too. It’s the true story of Rudy Ruettiger growing up watching Notre Dame football and dreaming of playing for them someday. Unfortunately, he just isn’t that good at football because he isn’t very big. After high school, though, he moves to South Bend, Indiana and goes to Holy Cross Community College for two years while continuously applying to Notre Dame. He finally gets accepted and then he goes to football tryouts and tries so hard that he gets put on the practice team. He plays on that team for two years and finally for his last game, he gets to play a couple plays and go down in history as having played on Notre Dame’s football team.
I can’t say enough how much I love this movie. There aren’t very many movies that make me cry every single time I watch them, but this is one of them. I get so happy at the end when Rudy finally gets to play that I’m always pratically weeping by the time it’s over. I think Sean Astin did an incredible job as Rudy and Jon Favreau is excellent as his best friend. I love the scene where Rudy finally gets accepted to Notre Dame and breaks down crying. I also love it when the Coach Steele chews out his quarterback and criticizes him for not having heart like Rudy does. But most of all, I love it when all the players come into the coach’s office and give up their spot on the team so that Rudy can dress for one game.
So far, I’ve made this sound really sappy. But it’s not. If you haven’t seen it, you should go rent it right now because it will put you in such a good mindset. It makes you feel that you can accomplish anything if you want it badly enough. “Rudy, Rudy, Rudy!”
Justin’s rating: No classes before 11
Justin’s review: Of all movie genres, drama always sends me to a weird and uncomfortable place. While I usually like to stock up on such trusted vintages like comedy or cheesy horror, every once in a while I have a serious craving for a good, moving story of some nutjob overcoming all odds to be grand poombah of the universe. But since most dramas teeter on the line between sappy sentimentality and a dark pit that not even Valium can rescue me from, it’s hard to find the exact mix. In my library I cherish my favorite dramas, including Stand By Me, Dead Poets Society, and Rudy.
As I well know, Indiana is not the most action-packed place in which to grow up. Young Rudy sees his predictable future as a factory worker and balks, dreaming instead to go to Notre Dame and play football. Any problems with this? Rudy is a shrimp, who even as a college student is dwarfed by the Jolly Green Giant-like players. Football represents a state of glory to these Hoosiers, a special life. To see the kids utterly fascinated with the sport — even quoting verbatim a radio coach’s pep talk — is a little sad but a lot uplifting. Although I don’t find football at all fascinating, I think all kids latch on to something bigger as a dream, whether it be ascertainable or not.
For Rudy, it’s not. He’s not that smart, his lean physique all but denies him a chance at football, and his father doesn’t understand why he wants to leave the town. Not everyone is meant to go to college, he’s told. But Rudy comes with one powerful ally: his fierce determination. He’s a dreamer, but he also learns to channel an intense energy into accomplishing his goals. Sure, this is a story that’s been retread thousands of times before. Follow your dream to make it real, even if people tell you it can’t be done. But there’s something about Rudy that makes it a believable story. Sean Astin (of Goonies fame) grows up in the film, and not just on screen. Any moment I was expecting to hear his voice crack. No such luck.
When his friend is killed, Rudy leaves his family and girlfriend to attend Notre Dame. He works his way in through a nearby community college, but refuses to fall into the position that society has carved out for him. His adventures of getting into Notre Dame, making good friends and bad enemies, and working to get onto the football team (and into the game, when only then could he be considered a “real” member of the team) are peppered with a scared determination… he knows very well he could fail, but at no point does he give up. Rudy and D-Bob (Jon Favreau) make a friendship out of necessity — Rudy needs to be tutored to get the grades, and D-Bob needs to meet the girls. Favreau is a little pasty and chunky, and he really pulls off the insecure thing well (considering that the next time we see him, he’s wild-man Gutter in PCU).
Rudy became a favorite movie of mine while I was working the video store in 1994, right before I went off to college. Maybe this movie is no more than a big hug, reassuring us that it’s okay to follow our dreams, and inspiration to get the guts to do so. What Rudy accomplishes is nothing short of incredible, and it makes me think deeply of what I could do with the same gusto. I’ll close with a quote from the movie, which sums up my life and I bet a lot of yours: “My whole life, people have been telling me what I could do and couldn’t do. I’ve always listened to them, believed what they said. I don’t want to do that any more.”
- Andie – At the end of the movie, on the screen flashes “Since 1975, no other Notre Dame football player has ever been carried off the field.” That always makes me cry some more.
- Notre Dame football team uniforms currently don’t have the players’ names on them, but did at the time of this story. See, for example, the historical photo at the end showing “Wujack” behind the real Rudy.
- The real Rudy Ruettiger can be seen as a fan in the crowd of the last game.
- The Eck Tennis pavilion can be seen in the movie (set in 1975) but it wasn’t constructed until the later 1980s.
- The crowd scenes during Rudy’s final game were filmed during halftime at a real game between Notre Dame and Boston College in 1992. As a result, if you look closely, you can see people in the stands holding up Boston College banners, wearing Boston College sweatshirts, and shaking maroon and gold pom-poms.
- There is a sign above the stairs to the Notre Dame locker room that lists the national championships won through the years. A sign that omitted the 1977 and 1988 championship references was substituted for the movie.
- Rudy and his father are at a bus station in 1971. On the wall is a faded mural of the New York City skyline, which includes the World Trade Center towers, which were not completed until 1972.
Teacher: The problem with dreamers is, they aren’t doers.
Rudy: You’re the only one who ever took me serious, Pete.
Pete: Well, you know what my dad always said. Having dreams is what makes life tolerable.
[to the quarterback]
Steele: If you had a tenth of Ruettiger’s heart, you could’ve made All-American.
Steele: Are you ready for this kid?
Rudy: I’ve been ready for this my whole life.
Fortune: You’re 5-foot nothin.’ 100 and nothing.’ You have barely a speck of athletic ability. And you have hung in there with the best college football team in the nation for 2 years. And you’re getting a degree from the University of Notre Dame. In this life, you don’t have to prove nothin’ to nobody but yourself.
Father Cavanaugh: Son, in 35 years of religious study, I have only come up with 2 hard incontrovertible facts: there is a God and I’m not Him.
Dan Devin: No one, and I mean no one, comes into our house and pushes us around.
Father: Praying is something we do on our time. The answers come in God’s time.
If you liked this movie, try these:
- The Replacements
- Dead Poets Society