>>> Click here for the RMC FAQ'N RULES <<<


Your Random Movie Club Results Are In!

Tagline: When people say dreams don’t come true, tell them about Rudy.


Pizza: Pizza Hut

Cool Dialogue: “If you had a tenth of the heart of Ruettiger, you’d have made All-American by now!”


I know so little about sports that I first titled this write-up “And It’s Rudy! Rudy! Rudy! For The Home Team…”, not realizing I was referencing baseball in a movie whose backdrop is football. Football does have two things I love – blimps and cheerleaders, but I don’t know much more than that. The one thing I do know, however, is that you don’t have to be a gridiron-lover to know that RUDY (1993) is a great movie.


What’s funny to me is how abundantly schmaltzy RUDY is. It’s as if it had a checklist of movie tropes, from the unsupportive dad to the “slow clap”, a corny dramatic device previously used in 80’s teen neo-classics CAN’T BUY ME LOVE and the similar-to-RUDY underdoggy (and fantastic) LUCAS. So no, you don’t want to like this movie, which begins with young Rudy and his family, who live and breathe Notre Dame football. You detest that when there’s a game on, Rudy’s mesmerized by the TV. You dislike the part where he performs a memorized recording of a Notre Dame’s announcer. You don’t want to like the cliché of them stuck in a steel town where your choice is to work at the mill and, well, that’s it.
And you certainly sneer at Rudy’s singular goal - to play for Notre Dame, despite the fact that he is blue collar, short, and has bad grades. You hate all these clichés, you hate all the schmaltz, and most of all, you hate yourself for liking Rudy. No, for loving Rudy. So much so that by the time the movie’s running down the end zone and into its third act, you’re rooting for him. Inspired by him.

I myself was inspired by him. It happened just now. I’m sitting here working on this write-up, thinking about how many other things I have to do, when I hear an imaginary stadium full of people cheering me on - “Richie! Richie! Richie!” - and so, I’m gonna knock this one out of the park! For the Gipper! Wait, that’s baseball again. Anyway…

As ROCKY was to boxing, RUDY, based on the true story of Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger, is to football, specifically Notre Dame football. And even though, like Rocky, he’s a little slow and a lot sweet-hearted, kids like Rudy don’t get into Notre Dame. Just like boxers like Rocky don’t win matches.

But there’s something about this Rudy (played perfectly by Sean Astin). His belief that he can do this is an amalgam of innocence, optimism, naivety, and good ol’ American idiocy. I myself relate to the Rudy character, who walks that thin line between likeable underdog and nutty stalker.


Director David Anspaugh and writer Angelo Pizzo have once again crafted a heart-winning story, similar to their 1986 movie, HOOSIERS (Anspaugh and Pizzo were frat brothers in Indiana two decades earlier, dreaming of making movies…how cool is that?). TANGENTIAL STORY: In the 80s, Ellen Barkin came into my video store and asked me for a recommendation. I suggested HOOSIERS, and she actually did a pshaw!, walking away saying, “Well, if you liked HOOSIERS, then this is the last time I go to you for suggestions.” I said, “Oh, like that movie SIESTA you were in was a work of genius?” (Full disclosure, I said this in my head, not out loud.) Anyway…time to huddle up:

We’re in Illinois, in a steel town where life is all about mines and football. But what if you dream of playing football and you’re told you’re “too small to play anything else” but outside center? What if your family mocks you because you cling to the idea that you’ll be playing football for the Fighting Irish? What if your coach and your priest are also trying to talk you out of your dream? Dad, played by the great Ned Beatty, who I once saw taking his garbage to the curb, says, “Chasing a stupid dream causes nothing but you and everyone around you heartache.” (By the way, thanks dad!) And what if…you’re…Rudy? Well, after a life-altering (both bad and sad) event, Rudy packs the thousand bucks he’s saved, the Notre Dame Jacket given to him by his only real buddy Pete, the only one who gets Rudy (“You were born to wear that jacket”), along with all the determination he could carry, and heads for Indiana.

Once there, we meet the characters who will populate his life; the priest (Robert Prosky, who worked with director Anspaugh on HILL STREET BLUES) who suggests he enroll in nearby Holy Cross College; ND alumnus friend/geek D-Bob (Jon Favreau) who tutors Rudy in exchange for Rudy introducing him to girls (how geeky are you if you need Rudy to help you); groundskeeper Fortune (Charles S. Dutton) and a girl, Mary (Greta Lind).For quixotic Rudy, getting into ND and getting on the team aren’t the only challenges. It seems every step he takes there’s some defensive lineman (I looked that up) to block his goal, like his father who still thinks Rudy should work at the mill and give up his dream, and his brother who not only still ostracizes him, but it sure looks like he helped himself to Rudy’s hometown girl (Lili Taylor).
But Rudy will shine like the best of heroes, not because of his grit or skill, but because of his obdurate determination. And before you can say Jackie Robinson (I know, I know) his teammates will lift him up and carry him off the field. By the way, the scene where incredibly shy D-Bob asks Rudy to help him meet girls in exchange for tutoring is wonderful. TRIVIA: Vince Vaughan has a small role in RUDY. This is where he and Favreau met, releasing SWINGERS three years later, almost to the day.

Ironically, the movie itself is a bit of an underdog tale. RUDY didn’t do well when first released, but the story caught fire and the movie is now more popular than ever. Not only that, but, as the story goes, the real Rudy saw HOOSIERS and sought out Anspaugh and Pizzo, who declined involvement, saying they didn’t feel the story was for them. But Rudy didn’t give up. He even tracked Pizzo down by asking a mailman where he lived. Maybe there’s a reason the word ‘tiger’ is in ‘Ruettiger.” Rudy! Rudy! Rudy!

Speaking of the real Rudy, here’s footage of his time on the field in 1975, along with players looking back on that day…from Notre Dame’s website:

RUDY was photographed in wintry grays by Oliver Wood (in his early career, Wood shot THE HONEYMOON KILLERS, which coincidentally…and randomly…screened last month at RMC). The highlight shot has to be when Rudy doesn’t have a ticket to a game and can’t get in. It’s an effective and even exciting shot using a crane, with a thrilling reveal – Rudy alone on one side of the stadium’s wall, while the unseen (to him) crowd cheers on the other side. The camera creeps up revealing the crowd on the left, Rudy on the right and the giant wall between them.

Okay, so yes, there are a few scenes that just may make a grown man cry. In fact, RUDY’s most tear inducing moment never happened in real life…it was written for the movie. I myself haven’t been this sentimental about sports since this beer commercial aired. Yet even though there are enough clichés (the priest calling Rudy “kid” comes to mind) for two Lifetime movies and half a Hallmark movie, writer Pizzo’s tight script along with Anspaugh’s directing are a winning team. (Anspaugh took his name off the cut-to-shreds TV version, which is now directed by “Alan Smithee”.) Okay, now I’m just running out the clock. So in closing; Everyone loves an underdog story. And everyone loves the son of a Duke (Patty), Sean Astin, for playing Rudy with such pure honesty. Players may carry Rudy off the field during the big game, but it’s Sean Astin who carries this movie to victory. Home run, Sean!!


* * * * * * * *



Two VHS tapes from my “Where The Hell Did I Get These” bin. First up: UNFOLDING STRUCTURES - I believe this was a promo piece for inventor Chuck Hoberman. It’s pretty cool. He builds things that expand and contract, shape-shifting as they do. Sometimes metal, looking like the insides of an Underwood. Sometimes looking like a 3-D Spirograph. Some things are small, some unfold when hung, and some so large they need to be unfolded on a rooftop. Also on the tape, a profile of Hoberman on a show called INVENTION. Though this tape is old (Clue 1: It’s on VHS, Clue 2: The World Trade Center can be seen when they’re on the roof, Clue 3: the tape’s label says from 1990-1995), Hoberman’s still at it. Making toys that unfold, among other things. Here are his sites: 


JAR JAR BINKS: E! TRUE HOLLYWOOD STORY - I probably would have enjoyed this 12-minute E! TRUE HOLLYWOOD STORY parody a lot more if I’d seen Jar Jar Binks in the space movie. That said, visual effect artist-by-trade Leif Einarsson did a bang-up job directing and co-writing (with David Estes). Hitting all the beats (birth, fame, drugs, etc.) and even voiced by a Peter Graves almost-soundalike, we hear the “true” story of Jar Jar Binks (nee Jarod Finkelstein), who “deep down knew he was different.” I couldn’t remember how I got this 1996 send-up until I saw my ex-manager in a small role (he also produced…and later, on Facebook, Unfriended me).

Feed Burner Subscribe in a reader

Powered byFeedBlitz

About ...

RMC email address
Old RMC Men

RMC is not affiliated with Rochester Midland Corporation, makers of fine restroom disinfecting fluids and urinal mats since 1888.


Powered by Pizza, Red Vines,
& 6 Different Kinds of Soda



This is a Flickr badge showing public photos from Random Movie Club. Make your own badge here.

((( Contribute to our Popcorn Fund! )))

Best Viewed With Firefox 2

Add to Google
Add to My Yahoo!
Add to Technorati Favorites!

eXTReMe Tracker