Notre Dame Football: Reviewing RUDY, 25 Years Later

EL PASO, TX - DECEMBER 30: Fans of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish hold up a sign during play against the Miami Hurricanes at Sun Bowl on December 30, 2010 in El Paso, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
EL PASO, TX - DECEMBER 30: Fans of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish hold up a sign during play against the Miami Hurricanes at Sun Bowl on December 30, 2010 in El Paso, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

The iconic Notre Dame football film turns 25 in October.

It’s tough to think about all the greatness, glory and legends surrounding Notre Dame football without the iconic movie Rudy coming to mind. The film will turn 25 years old this coming October.

In my mind, Rudy is one of the greatest sports movies ever made. It takes you one a journey of the common man and captures the spirit of all that is good about Notre Dame.

For me, the movie is what led to my initial infatuation with the Fighting Irish. It was released into theaters while I was in high school. I was a small town kid in Upstate New York, playing high school football and dreaming about the chance to play big-time college football.

That chance never game, but thanks to Rudy, we all got to live that journey and see inside the walls of the premier program in the history of college football.

What made Rudy so great is that the story resonated with everyone. Whether or not you were a Notre Dame fan, we have all been Rudy at some point in our lives. Our demographics are irrelevant. Everyone has seen themselves at the underdog at one time or another, so the main character is immediately relatable.

The supporting cast, mostly fictional characters, was fantastic as well.

I’ll never watch Jon Favreau in anything without thinking about him playing D-bob, the overweight, matter-of-fact tutor, teacher’s assistant and confidant who lacked confidence with the ladies. We’ve all been that guy at some point as well. Or at least known that guy.

Charles Dutton’s portrayal of Fortune, the groundskeeper, is one for the ages as well. Every college program has a Fortune — someone who was once a part of the program and for better or worse did all they could to remain close to it. His one-liners and tough-love mentorship of Rudy made for some of cinemas most memorable and quotable lines.

Ned Beatty was solid as Rudy’s father as well. He’s every dad. He wants what’s best for his kids, but he wants his kids to follow the path he has set for them in his own mind. In the end, he can’t hide his pride when he sees his kid succeed. That’s parenting in a nutshell.

The music was a character all its own. The symphony and choir music of Notre Dame songs and even a Creedence Clearwater Revival hit served as the waves that carried the magical ship that was the storyline.

And then you have Sean Astin. Talk about a career. There aren’t many people who can say they’ve been major characters in movies or television for four decade. He’s been in The Goonies, Rudy, 24, Lord of the Rings and Stranger Things. That’s an amazing resume.

Now we all know that the movie itself — in additional to a host of fictional characters — is filled with factual inaccuracies. Joe Montana — for whatever reason — has felt the need to speak out about this over the years, reminding everyone just how fictional it was.

I don’t get that — and quite frankly — I don’t care.

Rudy’s story is about more that historical fact and giving an accurate portrayal of the events that transpired in Dan “Rudy” Ruettiger’s life and journey. It’s about having goals, faith and a drive to succeed. It’s about using that drive to chase those goals and having the faith that your hard work will allow you to one day succeed. It’s about resiliency, and it’s a life lesson that that will always be necessary to be taught.

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Rudy is a timeless masterpiece and a must-see for all college football fans — regardless of where their allegiance lies. When you hold it up against the bulk of what’s coming out of Hollywood right now, few movies measure up to Rudy’s ability to immerse you into a realstic adventure that we can all relate to.

I hope my children feel the same way about the film 25 years from now.