Movie: Movies about sports related topics generally focus on some team or other that goes through various hardships in order to overcome their opponent and win "the big game". The music, camera angles, and other technical aspects of the movie will tend to build up over time in order to get you rooting for the team as a whole more than the individual players although such is not always the case. In one movie that applies this formula with a lot of success, Rudy: Deluxe Edition, we get to see a small man attempt the impossible and go for his dreams.
The movie centered on a small, kind of slow man, Daniel "Rudy" Ruettiger (Sean Astin) whose only dream in life is to play football for the famed Fighting Irish, Notre Dame. Unfortunately, his grades in high school are so bad that he'd be lucky to get into a community college and his athletic prowess was even worse. No one around him, from his teachers to his friends and family, with a sole exception of a brother, is supportive of his dream and he learns to accept his fate by getting a job at a steel mill with his family. Set during the mid 1970's, such was the fate of many people who follow what is expected of them rather than what they want to do (which is still true these days). When his brother dies in an industrial accident at the plant, Rudy sets out to make his dream come true or at least give it everything he's got before caving in.
For those who are unfamiliar with Notre Dame, it is a very competitive University both on and off the football field. Most people who apply simply don't have the wherewithal to cut the mustard and get in. Rudy manages to get into the school but with the players twice his size, faster, and better, Rudy's dream is looking even more out of reach as he gets closer to it. With his eligibility almost over, he makes one last attempt, blowing off anything, and anyone, who gets in his way, to make the team.
The story may be centered on Rudy's attempt to get onto a football team but the overriding theme is one of not giving up on your dreams and fighting for what you want. As such, it's a universal theme since we all have many dreams, often in conflict with one another, about sacrifice and drive, of which Rudy seemed to be a champion for us all. By focusing on him and not the team as a whole (as director David Anspaugh did with his movie, Hoosiers), we get a more intimate look at the concept which helps drive it home on a more personal level. As such, it succeeds even when we know we're being emotionally manipulated.
The acting by the leads and supporting cast was very solid in almost every case. You can buy the scenarios presented, albeit with a bit of eye rolling at times, and the movie is a testament to not giving up on your own dreams portrayed very realistically. The direction was generally well done, for all the faux pas made with regard to modern cars and buildings seen in the time frame the movie was set during, and whether you're a sports fan or not, the movie really speaks on a higher level to most of us.
I think the movie was worth a rating of Highly Recommended, not only for the fine performances, but the integration of the music, the visual style, and the overall quality of the movie itself. That this version of the movie also contains the CD soundtrack is just a bonus since the dvd also had an isolated score present. This was a ten-year anniversary edition and deserves a home in anyone's collection.
Picture: The picture was presented in 1.85:1 ratio anamorphic widescreen color and looked very good for it's age. There was a bit of grain in a few darker spots and some edge enhancement that you'll really have to be anal to fuss about but the overall picture was very solid in most cases. I didn't see any artifacts when I watched this one twice and the dvd transfer contributed to it's quality.
Sound: The sound was presented with a choice of Dolby Digital 5.1 English, Dolby Surround 2.0 English, or Dolby Surround 2.0 Spanish with optional subtitles in English, French, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, or Thai. The sound was very clear in most cases with a lot of separation, but the nod goes to the 5.1 track for it's deeper bass and side presence. The isolated score was decent but I preferred the separate CD for listening to the music.
Extras: The extras included a separate CD soundtrack to the movie, which was what differentiated this release from the previous version, a short featurette "Rudy: The Real Story" which featured the true life story complete with comments and interviews with the original "Rudy" describing some of the liberties Hollywood took with his biographical story, A short feature with actor Sean Astin where he discussed his roll in making the movie and some of the hardships he encountered, a making of feature that focused on the various actors and behind the camera crew's perspective on the movie, filmographies, an isolated score for the movie, trailers, and a dvd case that was designed like a book, complete with slipcover.
Final Thoughts: If you want to sulk and mope, determined that you have no control over your life or dreams, don't watch this movie. If, on the other hand, you want to be inspired by an example, however doctored up by Hollywood, of overcoming the odds to make your dreams come true by perseverance and willpower, you'll find an awful lot to like in Rudy: Deluxe Edition.