Plot: What’s it about?
Sports movies can be hit or miss. Then again, I suppose every movie can be hit or miss – regardless of genre. But, if done right, sports movies (to me) can be some of the most uplifting films out there. Who wasn’t wringing their hands when Rocky fought Apollo? Wasn’t it fun to relive the 1980 “Miracle on Ice” victory over the Russians? I think two examples should suffice. And I know I use this phrase far too often, but I “can’t believe it’s been…” three decades (as of this writing) since we were graced with Rudy. The same creative team that brought us Hoosiers back in the mid 80’s was back at it again, this time about a boy with a dream for playing for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. What Rudy Ruettiger lacked in size (and intelligence), he made up for with grit and determination. This is his story.
Rudy (Sean Astin) has always had the deck stacked against him. He’s from a blue-collar family in Indiana where he was essentially expected to continue the family business by working in a steel mill. This didn’t sit well with Rudy, who wanted to attend Notre Dame and play football for the Irish. He was laughed at and told it “would never happen” by friends and family. But after high school a life-altering event gets his dream back on track. Rudy heads to South Bend only to have the gold dome of Notre Dame just out of reach. He enrolls at a Community College, befriends Father Cavanaugh (Robert Prosky) and enlists the help of a tutor (Jon Faverau) to help him along the way. Things eventually start going his way when he does get into Notre Dame, but the likelihood of him ever running out of the tunnel seems like a pipe dream.
If you’re not emotionally moved in the least by this film, I don’t think you’re someone I want to know. I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for this film and it’s not that I’m that big of a football fan. I tend to gravitate towards films that inspire me and this one hit the nail on the head. Yes, it’s a bit overly sentimental at times, but given it’s a true story – I’m all for it. This Director’s Cut adds nearly 15 minutes to the Theatrical Cut (and, evidently, there’s a version that was made for television that the director disassociated himself from) and these scenes are used wisely. Likely anyone reading this review has seen the film multiple times, but I truly enjoyed this cut of the film. Add to that a new Dolby Atmos soundtrack and even a new audio commentary and we’ve got a winner.
Video: How’s it look?
Don’t let the cover art fool you, Rudy has never been a movie that’s soaked in color, so the skies parting with the setting sun on our titular hero is a bit misleading. But I get that it’s a fitting movie poster. This new 4K restoration has cleaned up the transfer a bit. While some fine grain still remains, I felt that the image has a nice, well-rounded look to it. A majority of the outdoor scenes are very muted (due to the perpetual grey skies above), but still manage to maintain a nice, natural look. Detail has been improved as well – all of those cuts on Rudy’s face look just a bit more imposing in 4K. Sony’s 4K offerings are among the best out there and Rudy has certainly never looked better.
Audio: How’s it sound?
Depending on which version of the movie you watch, you’ll get a great-sounding track in Dolby Atmos (4K) or DTS HD Master Audio (Blu-ray). For obvious reasons, I’d go with the Atmos mix. We can’t talk about Rudy unless we mention Jerry Goldsmith’s amazing score. If this doesn’t put you in the mood, then nothing will. And consider that comment is coming from someone who really doesn’t pay too much attention to musical scores. That aside, Rudy has a few notable moments, mainly during some of the practice scenes. Vocals are strong and consistent, offering a nice array from the various characters throughout the film. Surrounds are used sparingly, but effectively. This Atmos mix is a modest upgrade over the existing track, but either way you go – it’s a touchdown.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Disc 1 (4K)
- Director’s Cut – The 127 cut adds nearly 15 minutes to the run time. These are interjected in different parts of the film, but we do get a couple more scenes with Vince Vaughn’s character, several that flesh out the relationship between Rudy (Sean Astin) and Mary (Greta Lind) as well as a few more with Rudy’s family at home and with Father Cavanaugh (Robert Prosky). These are wisely put in and don’t detract from the overall experience and even give more depth to some of the supporting cast. I can see why they were cut, but it’s nice to have them included and in this Director’s Cut.
- Audio Commentary – Director David Anspaugh and Screenwriter Angelo Pizzo combine for a very good track. And can I say how nice it is to see older films with new commentary tracks? This is only available on the Director’s Cut of the film, but a plethora of information is learned about the additional scenes, the shoot, casting and so on. It’s a great track.
- Deleted Scenes – Five total, running just a shade over three minutes. Given that we’ve already got the Director’s Cut on this disc, these seem a bit redundant, but nice to have nonetheless.
- Game’s On
- Stadium (No Audio)
- This Story
- Train Tracks
- Theatrical Trailer
Disc 2 (Blu-ray)
- Theatrical Cut – I have no idea why someone would purchase this set and watch the Theatrical Cut of the movie when it’s available in 4K. But if you’re so inclined, it’s here.
- Rudy: The Real Story – The real Rudy Ruettiger is interviewed and we get the basis for the movie, some of his motivations and so forth.
- Production Featurette – With a name as generic as this, it’s gotta be good, right? This plays out like a glorified trailer with some snippets from the cast and crew as well as a few behind the scenes shots.
- First Down with Sean Astin – Essentially a short interview with Astin, the film’s star.
The Bottom Line
Rudy checks a lot of boxes. It’s a great film with a great message and with it being true, that only adds to the allure. It’s probably one of the more inspirational films out there, showing what grit, determination and the human spirit are truly capable of. Sony’s new disc gives us 15 more minutes of scenes in the Director’s Cut along with a new audio commentary. Truly, for anyone that’s even a passing fan of this film – this is, hands down, the version to get and should be a part of everyone’s collection.