Recently, while randomly looking through the offerings on Amazon Prime, the sports documentary “Rudy Ruettiger: The Walk On” caught my eye and I decided to watch it. The 2017 film was directed by Emmy winner Nick Nanton (A New Leash on Life: The K9s for Warriors Story), and written by Emmy winner Emily Hache (Return to Esperanza). During its 78 minute runtime, it told the true story of Daniel ‘Rudy’ Ruettiger, the inspiration for the 1993 film “Rudy.” I found it to be, not only entertaining, but inspirational and enlightening. I learned a number of things I was unaware of, because they were not in the 1993 movie. After watching the documentary, I was motivated to re-watch “Rudy,” because it had been a number of years since I’d last seen the film.
Rudy Ruettiger portrayed by Oscar nominee Sean Astin (Kangaroo Court) has an unyielding desire to play football for the University of Notre Dame. There are several factors which are hindering his chances of achieving his dream. Firstly, he doesn’t come from a family of financial means. Secondly, he has no chance of earning an academic scholarship, as his grades and his SAT scores are not up to par for a school of Notre Dame’s caliber.
Toward the beginning of the film, Rudy is engaged to his high school sweetheart, Sherry, played by Golden Globe winner Lili Taylor (Short Cuts). She has been looking at houses for the two of them, but Rudy seems reluctant. He still wants more out of life than merely getting married and working at the local steel mill. He works at the mill with his father Daniel, played by Oscar nominee Ned Beatty (Network), and his brother Frank (Scott Benjaminson), as well as his best friend Pete (Christopher Reed).
Pete is the one person, who seemingly believes Rudy has what it takes to play football for Notre Dame. Unfortunately, an accident takes Pete’s life. Rudy, motivated to turn tragedy into triumph, leaves for Notre Dame. When he arrives on campus, he’s not turned away or belittled. He soon learns, however, that determination aside, he’s going to have to do a great deal more than just show up and express his desires. He’s already well aware that not everyone gets to run out on the field, wearing a golden helmet as a member of the Fighting Irish football team of Notre Dame. He will have to work twice as hard to prove that he belongs.
Rudy befriends a priest, Father Cavanaugh, portrayed by Robert Prosky (Mrs. Doubtfire). He makes a deal with Rudy: If Rudy can achieve good grades at Holy Cross Junior College, Cavanaugh will do what he can to get Rudy in to Notre Dame. Earning good grades at Holy Cross is only the fist of numerous obstacles Rudy will have to face, in order to turn his dream, into a reality.
The film premiered on October 22, 1993. The parts biography – drama and sports film has a runtime of 114 minutes. “Rudy” was directed by Emmy winner David Anspaugh (Hill Street Blues) and written for the screen by Angelo Pizzo (Hoosiers). The score composed by Oscar winner Jerry Goldsmith (Patton) helps to serve the story by matching the right music to what is being shown on screen. There are two other cast members of note, not previously mentioned. First is Emmy nominee Jon Favreau (Dinner for Five) as D-Bob. Rudy meets him at Holy Cross and he becomes Rudy’s friend and tutor. The other actor is Emmy winner Charles S. Dutton, who plays the role of Fortune, someone, whom Rudy works with. Fortune acts as the voice of reason, pointing out to Rudy all of the wonderful things he’s achieved, even if he never gets to play football for the team.
In closing, I was glad I had decided to go back and re-watch “Rudy.” I found it to be a welcome respite from the craziness taking place in the world at this moment in time. I needed a feel good story to entertain me, even it if was just going to last a bit under two hours, and I am happy to write that Rudy didn’t disappoint. If you are seeking the same, and have never seen the film, or even if you have seen it, but, it has been a while, this is definitely the sort of film that can lift a person’s spirits.