This year will be the 25th year since the debut of the movie Rudy. The movie was viewed as a sports type, inspirational movie; a predecessor to movies like Remember the Titans and Friday Night Lights. The Notre Dame football team was an inspiring juggernaut in real life back then, so making a movie about an undersized kid who wanted so badly to make the team he would overcome all odds to achieve his dream was natural. It did so-so at the box office, bringing in $22 million. The movie was supposed to be based on the real life story of Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger, and it largely was, except for some directorial embellishments that have not escaped the eye of the critics.
Unfortunately for the reputation of the movie, NFL Hall of Famer Joe Montana was attending Notre Dame at the same time the real life Rudy was, and was more than harsh on his criticism of the film. Maybe he didn’t like the kid in real life. Maybe he thought the movie portrayal of certain characters took too much advantage of “artistic license.” Whatever the reasons, Montana didn’t like the film 25 years ago and still doesn’t.
Here are 5 embellishments that you can look over and decide for yourself if Montana is just being a grumpy old man or whether he was as right then as he is now.
1. In the film, Rudy has an older brother who was constantly berating him for his attempts not only to try and make the team, but in just about every aspect of life. The real life Rudy is the oldest brother in the family. The movie character Frank was created to have someone who would set Rudy up as the constantly harassed kid who would overcome the odds despite his detractors. There were detractors, but no older brother. Sorry.
2. The same idea was used to create a character would be used to illustrate all of the supporters of Ruettiger – the groundskeeper. There was a groundskeeper in real life but he really didn’t have much to say one way or the other about Ruettiger making the team. Obviously he had other things to do.
3. Then there was the scene where the crowd began chanting for Ruddy to come into the game, where he made a movie star-like play. Well the play happened, but as it turns out the crowd actually started chanting after he made the play and was coming off the field. The influence of the crowd on the decision to put Rudy in the game was totally fabricated.
4. A scene at the end of the movie showed all the Notre Dame players throwing their jerseys on Coach Dan Devine’s desk, refusing to play unless Ruettiger was allowed to dress for the final game of the season. That may ooze the whole “team” sentiment we hear so much about in sports, but even the real life Ruettiger said it never happened. The truth is, according to Ruettiger, is that he was told days before the final game he would be dressing up. Another scene that defied reality for the purpose of tugging at our heartstrings. To make matters worse, the real life coach Dan Devine said of the scene, “The jersey scene is unforgivable, it’s a lie and untrue.”
5. The last embellishment we will let Joe Montana relate. Carrying someone off of the field usually makes them a hero, but while the team actually did carry him off the field, Montana says it was done more in fun than actually giving Rudy any credit for the victory. He said the team was, “kinda playin’ around … I won’t say as a joke, but playing around.” But maybe the ending of the movie was actually appropriate to represent the intention of the whole movie. It’s all about fun, so don’t take things too seriously.