Full disclosure … I’m a grieving Michigan football fan, who is still waiting for the Wolverines’ first Big Ten title since they shared one with Iowa in 2004 and any sign of life in our so-called rivalry with Ohio State.
I definitely hate the Buckeyes more, but I’m not too fond of Notre Dame, either.
However, I love 1993’s “Rudy.”
Based on a true story, the film stars Sean Astin as undersized Notre Dame football player Daniel E. “Rudy” Ruettiger. Driven by the loss of his best friend and undying love for the Irish, Rudy works endlessly to find a way to run out of Notre Dame Stadium’s tunnel.
Scranton’s Jason Miller portrays late Notre Dame coach Ara Parseghian.
Director David Anspaugh, writer Angelo Pizzo and composer Jerry Goldsmith teamed up again for “Rudy,” another sports classic after 1986’s “Hoosiers.”
They created another great underdog story.
Astin played some memorable roles, including Samwise Gamgee from “The Lord of the Rings” franchise, Mikey from “The Goonies” and most recently Bob Newby from “Stranger Things” in a long career. But I’ll always know him as Rudy.
Astin epitomizes everything it takes to overcome an athlete’s lack of ability and appropriate body structure to reach a goal with pure heart.
He brings a youthful innocence to the role that drives the film.
He makes it easy for the audience to connect with him, which pays off when Rudy finally succeeds.
Rookie of the Year
Vince Vaughn had a shot at this award as Jamie O’Hara. He has a great character arc and then moved on to eventually become a movie star.
However, Jon Favreau’s performance proves more vital to the film. In just his third role, according to Internet Movie Database, Favreau shines as Rudy’s friend and tutor, D-Bob.
He builds great chemistry with Astin, which culminates in the final scene as he screams to Rudy from the stands, “Yeah! Who’s the wild man now?!?”
He built an outstanding career as an actor, director and writer off this rookie performance.
Among his achievements include starting the Marvel Cinematic Universe as the director of “Iron Man.”
Jerry Goldsmith created an iconic score that sticks with the audience long after watching the film.
The “Rudy” theme is ever-present throughout the movie and crescendos at the perfect moments. Goldsmith captures the pulse of the movie without much variation in the music. He took a similar approach to “Hoosiers” where he valued quality over quantity.
Goldsmith compiled 18 Oscar nominations and one win (1976’s “The Omen”) before his death in 2004.
Charles S. Dutton takes over scenes in his supporting role as Fortune. Rudy works for Fortune at Notre Dame Stadium and Dutton and Astin create an unforgettable rapport.
Fortune serves as a mentor and a father figure for Rudy while he battles to earn an opportunity to dress and run out of the tunnel for the Irish.
His most poignant moment comes after Rudy quits the team. Fortune sees him in the stadium and urges him to go back to practice with his “Five feet nothin’, 100 and nothin’ ” speech that puts into perspective all Rudy has accomplished.
He finishes by saying he once rode the bench for two years with Notre Dame. He quit and not a day goes by he didn’t regret it.
Also, his presence in the final scene resonates.
Rudy’s brother, Frank (Scott Benjaminson), is unnecessarily mean to Rudy pretty much throughout the film. This would be OK in another movie, but Rudy already has so many people trying to prevent him from achieving his dream.
Adding Frank as another foil is overkill. It turns out, Rudy didn’t have an older brother, according to IMDB, so the character was created for the film. His undying negativity adds nothing to the movie.
Also, Notre Dame coach Dan Devine actually insisted Rudy play in the final game, according to IMDB. The plot point works because of the setup of the film, but Devine, played by Chelcie Ross, carries his negativity too far.
After Rudy’s final play, Devine rolls his eyes. The negative reaction never made sense to me.
One shining moment
“Rudy” perfectly concludes from the second offensive lineman Steve Mateus (Peter Rausch) starts the Rudy chant until Rudy is carried of the field.
The best pieces of this film are all there for the final scene, including Favreau, Dutton and Goldsmith’s score.
Even Vaughn’s character completes his arc by throwing a halfback pass for a touchdown so Rudy had the opportunity to go on the field.
Goldsmith shines brightest as the music alone could bring the audience to tears.
Rudy not only runs onto the field for the kickoff, but also he ends the game with a sack. That’s when the score takes over and the camera finds his friends and loved ones. D-Bob yells to him, his father proudly taps the fan behind him already reliving the play and his brother finally appreciates what Rudy accomplished.
Fortune’s reaction hits hardest as he claps three times, turns and pumps his fist twice. Dutton does an incredible job sticking to the character. Fortune’s emotions are about to break through for the first time in the film, but he contains them. He never cries or screams, which is true to the character. That continuity makes the reaction so powerful.
It’s one of the classic endings of all time. When someone starts chanting Rudy, there’s a good chance everyone around that person knows the reference.