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RUDY
Blu-ray Edition

Review by Michael Jacobson

Stars:  Sean Astin, Ned Beatty, Charles S. Dutton, Lili Taylor, Robert Prosky, Jon Favreau, Jason Miller
Director:  David Anspaugh
Audio:  Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Video:  Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio:  Universal
Features:  See Review
Length:  114 Minutes
Release Date:  September 9, 2008

“You ready, champ?”

“I’ve been ready for this my whole life.”

Film ****

Rudy is one of my all time favorite sports movies and all time favorite true stories in one.  I’ve seen it so many times, it seems all I need to do is see a second of the film and the entire movie exists in my mind all at once.  It’s an inspiring, uplifting, American story that never fails to move me to tears.

I say American because the classic American dream is that if you work hard, focus, and are willing to make sacrifices, in this country, you can rise to the level of your God-given talents and abilities.  In the case of Daniel E. “Rudy” Ruettiger (Astin), one could say you can even sometimes do more.

Rudy was a small town blue collar kid who dreamed his whole life of playing football for Notre Dame.  The problem?  He wasn’t a very good student, nor did he have much athletic talent to speak of.  His small size and stature didn’t make for football glory.  All he had was heart.

He seemed destined to follow in his father’s (Beatty) footsteps in the steel mill and carve out a modest living for himself and his longtime girlfriend (Taylor).  But the death of his best friend makes him realize that wishing alone will never make a dream come true.  And though nobody in his family really understood his desire, or even believed in him, he set off to Notre Dame with a pittance of savings, a poor academic record, and hardly a lick of football ability.

A kindly priest (Prosky) helps all he can; namely, getting Rudy into a nearby Catholic junior college, where he finds a tutor in the smart but crass D-Bob (Farveau), and makes friends with the groundskeeper for the Notre Dame field (Dutton).  He even manages to meet the football coach (Miller), though without making much of an impression.

It’s almost beyond belief, yet it was a very true story.  Here was a kid who had no chance of doing what he wanted to do most…and there were no shortage of people around to point that out to him.  He was alone, but determined, and he didn’t let any obstacle within him or without him to stand in his way.

Rudy very easily represents the dreamer in all of us, and a shining reminder of what we might just be able to do if we just don’t give up the fight or the dream.  This film, well-acted, written and directed across the board, is a shining example of the sports underdog-makes-good story.  Even more so because there really was a Rudy, and Rudy really lived the dream.

The last words on the screen before the end credits is enough to bring out the lump in anyone’s throat.  You don’t have to like college football or even sports in general to appreciate the beauty and power of this inspiring story.  All you have to do is think back to a time when you had a dream of your own…and when the dream was all that mattered.

BONUS TRIVIA:  Look for Vince Vaughn in a small role, as well as the real Rudy Ruettiger in the stands!

Video ***1/2

This movie has held up well over 15 years, and looks quite lovely in high definition.  The warm, nostalgic color schemes bring the 70s period to vivid life, with strong detail and crispness.  There is a touch of softness here and there, but overall, a striking presentation.

Audio ***

The Dolby TrueHD soundtrack also serves the story well…it’s mostly dialogue-oriented, but Jerry Goldsmith’s lovely score and a few big scenes of gridiron action add an element of dynamic range and open up the rear channels and subwoofer a little more.

Features **

There is a look at the real Rudy and his story, a production featurette, and a look at star Sean Astin.

Summary:

Rudy is and always will be a favorite film of mine.  There’s something about the power of the truth in the story and the message that all things are possible to those who won’t give up that make it timeless and suitable for generation after generation.

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