“Rudy! Rudy! Rudy!” Do you know how sick I got of hearing that chant over the years. Ever since this movie came out, that chant would start up sometimes at sporting events, and later anytime there was any sort of an underdog situation. The chant pretty much became a meme, even before memes were a thing. That is one of the reasons that I never saw this movie, the other being that I honestly didn’t really care about it. However, Vudu thinks that I should give this movie a shot so let’s go ahead and have our feel good moment as I watch today’s movie, Rudy.
The plot: Young Daniel Eugene “Rudy” Ruettiger is growing up in Joilet, Il and tells his family that he plans on playing football for Notre Dame when he graduates high school but his family and friends tease him about it due to his small stature. As Rudy finishes his senior year in high school, he tries to get on the bus for students wanting to attend Notre Dame but his teacher stops him and tells him he doesn’t have the grades for it. 4 years later, Rudy has taken a job at the steel mill where his dad, Daniel, his brother, Frank, and his best friend, Pete, all work. Pete gives Rudy a Notre Dame jacket for his 22nd birthday and Rudy thanks him for being the only person that believed in his dream. Rudy has $1000 saved up to get into Notre Dame but his girlfriend Sherry wants him to use it for a down payment on a house. That night, as Rudy and Pete are in a bar with the other workers, Frank teases Rudy about his constant dreaming and Pete tells him that if he had half of Rudy’s heart, he would have been a better football player, causing a fight to break out between them. The next day, an accident occurs at the mill and Pete is killed in an explosion. At the funeral, Rudy tells Sherry that he has to go to South Bend, or else he will never leave and she tells him that he will have to go alone. As Rudy waits for the bus, Daniel shows up and tries to talk him out of it, telling him of their families history, but when he tries to tell him to be more like Frank, Rudy tells him that he isn’t Frank and gets on the bus. When he arrives at Notre Dame, he asks the security guard to see someone about enrolling and the guard has him meet with Father Cavanaugh. Cavanaugh thinks Rudy is there to become a priest but when Rudy explains that he wants to go to school there but his grades aren’t high enough, Cavanaugh tells him that he will help him get into Holy Cross College, the nearby junior college, for one semester and if he is able to keep his grades up, he may be able to transfer. Later, Rudy sneaks onto the football field but is confronted by Fortune, the groundskeeper, tells him he shouldn’t be there and when Rudy he plans on playing there, Fortune tells him to talk to the coach. Rudy goes to see Coach Ara Parseghian and tells him of his desire to play for the team but Parseghian dismisses him, thinking that he won’t see him again. Rudy begins attending his classes at Holy Cross and meets D-Bob, a graduate student at Notre Dame who is a teaching assistant at Holy Cross. D-Bob tells Rudy that he can help him with his studies and get his grades up, as he is a tutor, in exchange for Rudy’s help in meeting some of the girls on the campus and Rudy agrees. Later, Rudy goes back to the stadium and talks with Fortune about working for him, offering to do it for free, and Fortune refuses at first but when Rudy tells him that he just wants to be a part of the university, Fortune agrees to hire him at minimum wage. As time passes, D-Bob has Rudy tested and it is discovered that he dyslexia, which is why he did so bad in school. Rudy starts doing exercises and gets an A in a literature exam, which he happily shares with Fortune. As they get ready for work, Rudy notices the cot in Fortune’s office and he unlocks the window so he can sneak in and sleep on it, as he is homeless, but Fortune notices him and chooses not to say anything. Rudy continues to attend classes and do anything he can to get close to and be a part of the team. One night, Rudy finds a blanket and a key to the office on the cot and he thanks Fortune for them the next day but Fortune denies knowing anything about it. After finishing his first semester at college, Rudy applies for a transfer to Notre Dame but is rejected. Despite the rejection, Rudy goes home for the Christmas holiday and shows his dad his report card, and tells him that he didn’t get in this year but he will next year. Frank scoffs at his continued dreams and when their brother John shows up with Sherry, Frank tauntingly tells John to wish Rudy a Merry Christmas. John and Sherry both try to explain things to Rudy but he gets upset and leaves, heading back to South Bend. As the semesters pass, Rudy is rejected each time and he starts to feel discouraged that he will never make it into Notre Dame but on his last semester of transfer eligibility, he receives a letter saying that he has been accepted to Notre Dame. Rudy goes home and shows his father the acceptance letter, who is happy for him and announces it to everyone at the steel mill. Rudy heads back to South Bend and tries out for the team as a walk on, but the assistant coach warns all of the players that there are 95 scholarship athletes but only 60 students will be on the field so at least 35 of them will be watching from the stands. Rudy goes through the drills and he impresses the coaches enough with his drive and heart to make it onto the team. Rudy goes to see Fortune and thanks him for his help the past few years and reminds him of his promise to watch his first game if Rudy dresses out for the game and Fortune says that he will be there if it happens. As Rudy practices with the team, some of the other players criticize him for his trying too hard and tell him to dial it down but Rudy refuses to do it. When he makes a visit home, his father and John both congratulate him on making the team but Frank mocks him by saying they never see him when they watch the games on TV, a dig at Rudy just being on the practice squad. Rudy goes to see Parseghian about being able to dress out for one of the games and Parseghian agrees to let Rudy dress out during his senior year. Rudy is excited and calls his dad to let him know but as the Spring semester starts, Parseghian quits and former Green Bay Packers coach Dan Devine becomes the new head coach. D-Bob leaves town and tells Rudy that he will fly back to watch him when he dresses out and tells him not to lose hope but as the weeks go by and Rudy doesn’t see his name on the list, he begins to feel more and more dejected. At the next to last home game approaches and Rudy finds his name on the list, Rudy decides to quit the team. Fortune sees him in the stadium instead of on the practice field and when Rudy tells him that he quit, Fortune chastises him for the decision. Fortune then reveals that he never watched a game from the stands but he did watch from the bench when he was a player but he quit the team because he felt he wasn’t getting enough playing time due to his skin color, and tells Rudy not to make the same regretful choice he did. Rudy returns to the practice field, prompting his teammates to begin applauding him, much to Devine’s confusion. Later, most of the starting players tell Devine that the want Rudy to dress out in their place, laying their jerseys down on his desk in a show of Solidarity for Rudy. Devine relents and when Rudy is told the news that he will be dressing out for the game against Georgia Tech, he calls Frank and begs him to bring the family to the stadium to watch him be on the team. On game day, the team captain has Rudy lead them out of the tunnel and Rudy’s family, as well as D-Bob and his wife, cheer when they see Rudy, while Fortune smile as he watches from inside the tunnel. The game commences and as Notre Dame seems poised for victory, Devine refuses to put Rudy in the game. The players on the sideline start chanting Rudy’s name, which is picked up by the fans in the stands. With less than a minute to play, Devine orders the offence to go into victory formation but O’Hara, the tailback, refuses to do that and convinces the quarterback that they need to score quickly so Rudy has a chance to get on the field. Notre Dame scores and Rudy is sent out onto the field as part of the kick off team. With 7 seconds left to play, Rudy is left on the field for the last play and ends up sacking the quarterback. Rudy is carried off the field on his team’s shoulders and a post credits writing reveals that nobody has been carried off the field on their teammates shoulders since (though it has happened since the move came out). Rudy graduated from Notre Dame in 1976 and his younger brothers all ended up going to college and graduating.
Rudy received mostly positive reviews from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 74% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Though undeniably sentimental and predictable, Rudy succeeds with an uplifting spirit and determination.” In the movie, Rudy is portrayed as having largely gone into the steel industry after graduating high school. In reality, he served four years in the U.S. Navy as a yeoman on a communications ship, which is never mentioned, however the military duffel bag he carries in numerous scenes is stenciled with his name and “U.S.N.”. The movie was a modest hit at the box office, earning $22.8 million off of a $12 million budget.
Ok, I think it is a bit over-hyped but I will admit that this is a good movie. The acting was good, with Sean Astin doing a great job as the title character, with Ned Beatty (Daniel), Charles S. Dutton (Fortune), and Jon Favreau (D-Bob) also doing good jobs in their roles. The story was very well written and even though it didn’t match exactly with the real events, they still managed to convey all of the emotions that Rudy went through in his quest to follow his dream. The drama involved was well done, as you felt Rudy’s constant excitement (which could be a bit sickening at times), as well as his depression and frustration as the setbacks continually pile on him. So it is a good movie and worth watching (but I still would have been fine not watching it).
Rating: 4 out of 5