This 1993 film by David Anspaugh (Hoosiers) is slowly building a reputation as a minor highlight of ’90s movies. Based on a true story, Rudy stars Sean Astin as Rudy Ruettiger, a blue-collar kid whose father (Ned Beatty) worships Notre Dame football but who would never dare to dream that any of his sons could be a part of the team. The film is entirely about Ruettiger’s ceaseless if sometimes wavering commitment toward that goal, despite tremendous obstacles in physical stature, education requirements, the dismissiveness of coaches, poverty, his father’s envy, and endless delays of one kind or another. This is the sort of film that looks back on a life and says the battle was its own reward, not the glory.
Astin is very moving as a boy who becomes a man and watches his world change, often in unexpected ways, through painful determination. Great support from Beatty, Lili Taylor as a hometown girl, and Robert Prosky and Charles S. Dutton as two valuable mentors.
Sean Astin (Rudy): I’ve been ready for this my whole life.
Charles Dutton (Fortune): You’re 5 foot nothin’, 100 and nothin’, and you have nearly a speck of athletic ability. And you hung in there with the best college football team in the land for 2 years. And you’re gonna walk outta
here with a degree from the University of Notre Dame. In this life, you don’t have to prove nothin’ to nobody but yourself.
Charles Dutton (Fortune): You got your head so far up your ass about that damn football team, you don’t get the fact that you just got a year of top quality education! Waste? Quit wasting my time!