drama, movie, movie review, sports

November 4th, 2018 Movie – Rudy

rudy

“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

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comedy, movie, movie review, romance

May 16th, 2018 Movie – Wedding Crashers

wedding crashers

You ever wonder why some mixed genre’s have their own nicknames and others don’t. For instance, movies that are both dramas and comedies are called “dramedies” or romance/comedy movies are called “rom-coms”. However, there isn’t a cute nickname for a horror/comedy or a sci-fi/horror movie. I don’t know why but that thought honestly just popped into my head for some reason and it wouldn’t leave. Anyways, today’s movie is a fun little rom-com that I remember watching years ago and happily bought it on DVD when it came out. So let’s have some laughs with today’s movie, Wedding Crashers.

The plot: John Beckwith and Jeremy Grey work as divorce mediators in Washington D.C. but during the height of wedding season, they crash weddings to hook up with women. As the wedding season comes to a close, Jeremy brings up the upcoming wedding of Secretary of the Treasury William Cleary’s daughter and convinces John to go with him. At the wedding, John and Jeremy both set their sites on Cleary’s other daughters; with John taking a liking to Claire while Jeremy is attracted to Gloria. During the reception, Jeremy hits it off with Gloria and they end up having sex on the nearby beach. Meanwhile, John dances with Claire’s mother Kathleen, who subtly suggests he hook up with her, and then talks with Cleary all in an attempt to get closer to Claire only to find out that she has a boyfriend, Sack Lodge. When Gloria says that she was a virgin and is in love with Jeremy, he quickly finds John and says they need to leave as he has a “Stage 5 Clinger” but John says that he needs more time to seal the deal with Claire and when Gloria invites them to the family compound for the weekend, John quickly accepts. At the Cleary family home, John continues to get closer to Claire during a football game, though Jeremy ends up being injured by Sack. Gloria tends to Jeremy’s injuries and attempts to sleep with him again but he gently rebukes her, saying that he wants to get to know her better. As they leave, they run into Cleary, who warns Jeremy not to make Gloria just another notch in his belt. As they sit for dinner, John secretly puts eye drops in Sack’s drink to make him sick. as he leaves, there is some drama with Todd, Cleary’s son, and Grandma Mary. Claire goes outside to get some air and John offers to join her but as he is getting changed, Kathleen comes in and takes off her shirt and makes John feel her tits. As he is leaving, Todd asks if he felt her tits and warns him not to say anything to his dad. John finally gets outside to talk with Claire but she is quickly called away to help tend to Sack, who is overly rude to her. That night, Gloria sneaks into Jeremy’s room and ties his arms and legs to the bed, then proceeds to have sex with him. After she leaves, Todd enters, and professes his love for Jeremy, having painted a picture of him. The next day, Jeremy is upset with John and calls him selfish but he agrees to stick it out for the rest of the weekend to help John out. Meanwhile, Sack is getting suspicious of John and Jeremy and calls a friend of his and asks him to hire a P.I. to look into them. John and Jeremy go on a sailing trip with the Clearys and afterwards, Sack shows up to go quail hunting and John and Jeremy reluctantly agree to go. During the hunt, Sack decides to try and scare off John and Jeremy and ends up shooting Jeremy in the butt with his shotgun. As Gloria works on pulling out the pellets, Claire and John go for a bike ride to the beach and as they continue talking, Claire ends up kissing him. At lunch that day, Sack tells everyone that he and Claire are getting married and everyone reacts happily for them but Claire, confused over her feelings, leaves the room. Jeremy gets ready to leave when he is confronted by Gloria and when she reveals that she wasn’t a virgin like she claimed, he realizes that he was played and might have feelings for her. Meanwhile, John goes to talk with Claire and tries to tell her not to marry Sack and starts to tell her the truth about him and Jeremy when Jeremy comes running out of the house, being chased by Grandma Mary with a shotgun. As John asks what is going on, Sack confronts him about the truth about what they are and punches him when he doesn’t answer right away. When Claire asks John if it’s true, he says it’s complicated, as he has fallen in love with her but she walks away from him. As month’s pass, John keeps trying to contact Claire but she refuses to respond. John comes up with a plan to crash Claire and Sack’s engagement party, disguised as waiters but when Jeremy says he can’t go with him, John questions where he has been the last few months, saying he has been a ghost. John shows up at the party, helped by the Cleary’s butler Randolph to get inside, but before he can talk to Claire, Sack spots him and has his friends take him outside so they can beat him up. John goes to Jeremy’s house to find out why he didn’t show up and discovers that Jeremy had continued to see Gloria. John storms out and as the weeks go by, he crashes weddings on his own but is more sullen and suicidal. Meanwhile, Jeremy decides to propose to Gloria and when he goes to tell John and ask him to be his best man, John tells him to leave. John then goes to see Chazz Reinhold, Jeremy’s friend and the one who taught Jeremy the skill of being a wedding crasher. John learns that Chazz has moved from crashing weddings to attending funerals to pick up women. Chazz invites John to go with him to a funeral that Saturday and as John is there he has an epiphany and leaves the funeral. He shows up at Jeremy and Gloria’s wedding and apologizes to Jeremy for being late, who is happy that John showed up. As the ceremony continues, John tries whispering to Claire, who is Gloria’s maid of honor and she starts to walk away but he stops her. He comes clean about himself and tells her she can’t marry Sack. When Claire agrees with him, Sack gets angry, even more so when Cleary says that he stands behind his daughter’s decision. Sack goes to attack John but Jeremy steps in and punches him, then Gloria kisses him. John kisses Claire and as the ceremony ends, the two couples end up leaving together and as they decide on where to go, Jeremy mentions another wedding happening and Claire starts coming up with a back story for them to use.

Wedding Crashers met with mostly positive reviews, holding a certified fresh rating of 76% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Wedding Crashers is both raunchy and sweet, and features top-notch comic performances from Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson.” The role of John Beckwith was originally offered to Will Ferrell but he turned it down for a smaller, and uncredited, role. The movie was a box office success, earning $285.2 million off of a $40 million budget and would become New Line Cinemas’ 6th highest grossing movie, 10th highest after New Line’s merger with Warner Bros.

This is one of those movies that is just fun to watch. The acting was good, with Owen Wilson (John) and Vince Vaughn (Jeremy) sharing great chemistry together, as their real life friendship as members of the “Frat Pack” really helped sell it. I also liked the chemistry they had with Rachel McAdams (Claire) and Isla Fisher (Gloria), as it made the pairings feel somewhat more natural. The story was honestly pretty ridiculous, playing on the stereotype that some women get “horny” at weddings, while playing up some of the usual rom-com tropes. The comedy was pretty good, with most of it being some witty banter and good writing and dialogue with a little bit of slap stick thrown in to keep things interesting. A lot of laughs that is definitely worth watching if you need some cheering up.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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comedy, drama, movie, movie review

December 25th, 2017 Movie – Swingers

swingers

You have to love those movies that seem to define a generation. Today’s movie is definitely one that seemed to resonate with my generation. I lost count of the number of times I have heard someone saying “That’s money!” or “Vegas, baby!” over the years. I will admit that it took me a while to get the references, as I didn’t end up seeing this movie until several years after it came out. Once I did, however, I decided to buy a copy of my own to keep so I could watch it whenever I wanted too. Now let’s have some fun with today’s movie, Swingers.

The plot: In Los Angeles, Mike Peters, a struggling comedian, is sitting in a diner with his friend Rob and complaining about how he misses his ex-girlfriend Michelle, who is still in New York. When he gets home, Mike contemplates calling Michelle but calls his friend Trent instead, who convinces Mike to go to Vegas with him. When they get there, Mike immediately loses $200 on a high stakes blackjack table and heads down to a lower risk table for the rest of the night, where he manages to get some of it back. After collecting his night’s winnings, Mike wants to go home but Trent convinces him to stay by talking with a waitress, Christy, and asking her to get a friend and go out for drinks with them when her shift ends. The two meet up with Christy and her friend Lisa and Christy invites them back to her place, where she ends up hooking up with Trent while Mike talks with Lisa about his ex, then interrupts Trent and Christy so he can use Christy’s phone to call Michelle. The two leave Vegas and end up talking on the side of the highway, where Trent tries to convince Mike that he needs to get over Michelle as he is better off without her. Mike hangs out with Rob, Trent, and their friends Sue and Charles, where they decide to head out to a Hollywood party. At the party, Mike attempts to pick up a girl, with Rob acting as his wingman but he gets shot down as he doesn’t drive an expensive enough car for the girls’ tastes. Meanwhile, Trent manages to get a girls phone number but then immediately rips it up as he walks away from the girl, causing the guys to chastise him. They leave the party and head to a club for some cocktails, where Mike actually ends up hitting on a girl named Nikki and getting her number. As they are leaving, some guys bump into Sue and they end up arguing and as things start getting heated, Sue pulls out a gun and chases off the men. The other guys chastise Sue over his actions, with Rob and Charles leaving, and Mike walking away in anger after Sue calls him out for how he has been pining over Michelle for 6 months. When Mike gets home, he ends up calling Nikki and leaves her several messages until she eventually picks up and tells him to not call her again. Mike is feeling depressed and considers moving back to New York but Rob comes over and talks him out of it, telling him how he actually is doing good for himself right now. Mike decides to go hang out with Trent and finds him and Sue playing video games with the guys that they got into the argument with at the club. Sue says that they ran into them the next night and apologized and realized they had a lot in common and started hanging out. Sue then apologizes for what he said to Mike and they patch things up. Mike, Trent, and Sue head out to a dance club and while they are there, Mike notices a girl at the bar and begins talking to her. He learns that her name is Lorraine and she is in a similar situation as him and she asks him if things get better. Lorraine asks Mike to dance and they end up heading out onto the dance floor, with Trent and Sue happily watching their friend. Afterwards, Mike walks Lorraine and they make plans to get together again and as they are eating breakfast, Trent and Sue congratulate Mike on seeming to be getting his life back on track. The next day, Mike receives a call from Michelle and he starts to talk with her but when he gets a call from Lorraine, he hangs up on Michelle so he can focus on building a relationship with Lorraine.

Swingers was highly praised by the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 87% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, ” Funny, heartfelt, and effortlessly cool, Swingers made stars out of Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau, established Doug Liman as a director to watch.” The scene where Mike and Trent were talking on the side of the freeway was actually done illegally, as the crew not only did not have a permit but filming is not allowed on that particular highway. Doug Liman decided to shoot anyways, even when police showed up, and covered it up by leaving the camera running while not looking through the viewfinder, and using a microphone in the car instead of a boom mike. The movie was a box office hit, earning $4.6 million off of a $200,000 budget and helped launch the careers of Vince Vaughn, Jon Favreau, Rob Livingston and director Doug Liman.

This is a great movie to watch. Jon Favreau (Mike), Vince Vaughn (Trent), and Rob Livingston (Rob) were all great in their roles, as was Heather Graham in her brief role as Lorraine. The story was well written, with Favreau adding a lot of realism to the script by using his own experiences from when he first moved to L.A., where he had broken up with his own girlfriend before the move and his friends helped him get over it. The music in the movie was pretty good, being a mixture of classic 40’s and 60’s swing/lounge music with some more modern music from the mid-late 90’s swing revival, a revival that coincided with the release of the movie (though there is no direct correlation between the two). A great movie and definitely one that is worth watching.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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