A 1993 Sports Film Based on a True Story. Sean Astin plays the title character Daniel "Rudy" Ruettiger, a kid with little academic credentials or athletic prowess. He wants to go to The University of Notre Dame but has next to no chance of getting there. When a close friend dies in an accident (the only one who didn't criticize his dream), he decides that he is going to play for the Fighting Irish, no matter the obstacles. The only thing Rudy can offer anyone is his exemplary effort, which is his most valuable asset for the few people who recognize it.
As for the outcome of the story, there are few surprises. Like some of the best of the genre, the real victory has nothing to do with the actual sports game and everything to do with the heart of those who are playing.
This film provides examples of:
- Appeal to Familial Wisdom:Pete: Well, you know what my dad always said, "Having dreams is what makes life tolerable."
- Artistic License Sports: In real life, it was Dan Devine's decision to let Rudy play in Notre Dame's final game of the year. But it was also the real life Devine's suggestion that his fictional counterpart be the one holding Rudy back in the movie and instead make the other players stand up for him.
- Based on a True Story: There really is a Daniel "Rudy" Ruettiger who played for all of two downs for Notre Dame football and recorded one sack before being carried off the field. However, the movie version of Rudy had a lot more obstacles thrown in his way that the real Rudy did.
- Boring, but Practical: Rudy's college education that he receives while fixating on football. It has to be pointed out to him that a college degree will do wonders for keeping him out of the steel mill and improving his life.
- Character Title: The film focuses on Rudy and his dream of playing for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team.
- The Determinator: One of the few movies that doesn't shy away from the fact that heart and effort doesn't always override physical power and skill. Still, seeing Rudy make that sack in the one time he got to play is thrilling.
- Down to the Last Play: Averted. Everyone goes all out specifically to create a lead large enough that Rudy can play without costing Notre Dame the game, with the last play seeing the Fighting Irish winning 30-3. The only thing Rudy actually does is sack the quarterback of Georgia Tech to run out the clock and end the game.
- Hard Work Fallacy: Zigzagged. The eponymous character works very hard in spite of having no athletic talent or societal advantages, and achieves his goal of playing for the Notre Dame football team. When he's actually given the opportunity to play for two downs at the end of a game, he actually does get a sack. However, it's never even presented as a possibility that Rudy will ever become a good football player. His teammates have to insist on allowing him to suit up for a game simply because his hard work was an inspiration for the truly successful members of the team.
- Historical Villain Upgrade: Dan Devine in Real Life was floored by Rudy's hard work and suggested he suit up and play in the final game. In the movie, Dan Devine refuses to let Rudy play until the entire team offers up their spot just so Rudy can play. In fact, Devine is such a nice guy he let the filmmakers "play the heavy" with his character because he considered Rudy a friend and wanted to help. That said, he didn't expect the movie to play him the villain in the final act quite so intensely.
- History Marches On: The closing text states that Rudy is the only Notre Dame player to be carried off the field. Marc Edwards became the second two years after the film's release. It was true at the time, however.
- Magical Negro: Charles Dutton's janitor character inspires Rudy to not quit.
- Manly Tears: As soon as Rudy reads his acceptance letter, he breaks down in tears, thanking God and runs off to show the letter to his family.
- Pragmatic Adaptation: The janitor Rudy worked with actually lived at the basketball arena, but since it was a football movie, they changed it to the stadium.
- '70s Hair: Averted. Even though the story takes place in The '70s, almost all the men are shown having shorter hair than usual depictions of the period. Rudy himself◊ had longer hair in Real Life.
- Straw Character: It's not an exaggeration that Rudy's friend is the only one who supports him. His family, other friends, teachers, ministers and just about everyone else Rudy knows don't just "not support" him, but instead actively discourage him from following his dream, with none of them even making a token gesture of playing along to humor the guy.