Judge David Johnson once dressed for the Fighting Irish. Oh, wait, that was the Fighting Irises, an aggressive team of optometrists.
Our review of Rudy: Deluxe Edition, published November 18th, 2003, is also available.
"Rudy! Rudy! Rudy"
One of the all time man tear elicitors hits Blu-ray, allowing the football-loving/sucker-for-triumph-of-the-human-spirit individual in your orbit to experience the diminutive pass rusher's boisterous tale in righteous clarity.
Facts of the Case
Who doesn't know the story of Rudy? Played by Sean Astin (The Lord of the Rings), the titular scrapper is an un-noteworthy physical specimen, short, bony, slow, but determined with every molecule of his being to fulfill his long-time dream of becoming a member of the Notre Dame football team.
After a torturous ordeal trying to get accepted into the school itself, Rudy faces an even greater challenge as he fights to work his way from the lowly scouting team to dressing for a home game and blowing the mind of his father, his friends and anyone who ever thought a non-athletic nobody could register a sack in the final seconds of garbage time.
There's probably not much I can say that will sway anyone towards or away from this film. You either love Rudy, succumbing to misty eyes at the mere remembrance of the rousing theme, welcoming the gooseflesh when the team lays down their jerseys in support of their teammate, standing up and pumping your fists as the clock winds down on the final game…or you're an a-hole.
Actually, I'll confess that I'm not as enamored with the film as much as most people are. I used to work with a woman who told me that her husband would start crying at the simple memory of this movie and I have no doubt there are plenty of souls with a similar emotional bond. I'm not one to poop on somebody's inspirational movie of choice, but as far as poignant sports movies go, I'd rank this below Hoosiers, Field of Dreams and Miracle, but fourth place in the Feel Good Sports Movie Derby is nothing to sneeze at.
I guess my main gripe is that the whole thing feels like a sentimental Notre Dome brochure. Rudy fricking loves Notre Dame University and doesn't refrain from pouring out his feelings on the institution whenever there's a break in the hard-hitting football practice footage. Nothing against Notre Dame, which looks like a fine learning community, but at times the film just gets a bit too syrupy with the college-worship.
And while Rudy's heart and dedication is impressive, the payoff just didn't quite resonate with me—at least not to the extent where I was choked up like the "Dad, how about a catch?" line or the slow pullback of the Indiana high school championship picture.
Again, I'm not trying to rain on anyone's parade and my man Sean Astin is as plucky as it comes in this role and if you're as emotionally entangled to his adventure as admittedly most of the continental United States is, then you will be happy to know you've never seen Rudy look and sound as great as it does on Blu-ray.
Rehabbed in a new 1.85:1, 1080p transfer, the picture quality is on par with some of the cleaner treatments of catalo titles, which often are a mixed bag when given the HD treatment. Rudy earns its street cred through some crystal clear detailing and a vibrant color palette that boosts the fall foliage colors of Notre Dame with gusto and lends the practice field and lush, sharp texture. With the big crowd scenes and rich setting, the disc is a top-shelf example of the added pop of HD. The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix is an active mix and will trumpet that iconic soundtrack with vigor. The recycled extras—"The Real Rudy" documentary, a promo featurette, a brief interview with Sean Astin—is the only weak point in an otherwise solid release.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Call me a prude, but for a PG, family-friendly sports movie, Rudy featured a whole lot of taking the Lord's name in vain. Hey, the first time I watched it was with my grandparents and the awkward silence was painful, okay?
The tech specs measure up nicely and the movie's a classic, but the bonus materials are sad.
Not guilty. Time to run through that tunnel.
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Scales of Justice
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