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Rudy's football story is overly sentimental, but inspiring

Starring SeanAustin and Ned Beatty.
Directed by David Anspaugh.
Written by Angelo Pizzo.
Music by Jerry Goldsmith.
Loews Cheri.

By Patrick Mahoney
Staff Reporter

Dreams. We all have them. We all dream when we're little of being an Olympic runner, a World Champion ice-skater, or a pitcher in the Major Leagues. Rudy, a new release from Tristar pictures starring Sean Austin and Ned Beatty is about dreams. One poor boy's dream to go to Notre Dame and play football for the Irish.

The movie opens with Rudy Ruedicker playing football with his friends as a little boy. He wears a gold (Notre Dame) helmet. He says to his father that after high school he is going to go to Notre Dame. Unfortunately everyone laughs at him, and tells him that he's dreaming. He holds onto his dream, even though everyone around him tells him he's a fool for thinking he can get in or afford Notre Dame.

Austin's performance in the film is tremendous. From the outset, we see him as a man driven by a single desire in life. Everything that he does focuses on this. From the first time that he states his goal until the climax of the movie, we believe him and want him to succeed.

Perhaps the most memorable scene, and the one that sums up the feeling of the movie the best is one where Rudy is sitting at the bus station about to leave for Notre Dame. His father walks up and they begin to talk about dreams -- about how sometimes holding onto dreams that cannot come true can just cause pain to all the people around you who care for you. To this Rudy replies that all of his life people have told him what he can and cannot do, and he always believed them, but that now he needed to believe in himself.

Ned Beatty plays the head groundskeeper at Notre Dame stadium. Soon after Rudy gets to South Bend, Ind. (home of Notre Dame) he seeks out Beatty and gets a job working in the stadium. Over time, the friendship between the two of them grow. It is Beatty who keeps Rudy from quitting and going home, even though he is not immediately accepted into Notre Dame and must instead enroll in a junior college.

All of the minor characters are well done also. We get the feeling that the team actually cares for this little 5-foot runt, who puts more effort into the team than all of the regular players. What adds a lot of clout to this movie is the role of the coach who transfers in from the Green Bay Packers. He's a really mean guy, and doesn't really care how hard Rudy plays because the fact remains that Rudy has no talent. In the end, when it would be a perfect time for him to play Rudy, he still is the villain, and only after the team almost turns against him does he give in. This shows us how truly inspirational Rudy has been to the team. The movie is inspirational. It shows us that if you want something enough and are willing to work for it, it can come true.

The movie has a flaw or two. It is overly sentimental. Some of this is acceptable. It is a story with a happy ending, and happy ending have a tendency to grow sappy. Much of the sentimentally can be excused simply because of the fact that it is based on a true story. All of the characters are developed and there is plenty of substance to the film. I also give a thumbs up to the music score. It succeeds in setting the moments well throughout the film. Just the right amount of tension at just the right time.

Overall the movie is excellent. One of the best sports movies I've seen, right up there with The Natural and Field of Dreams. See it. It will make you happy.