For the Gipper

Hate on Rudy for its maudlin drama; it’s so weepy and sappy, there’s a slow clap AND a slow chant. Hate on Rudy for its infomercial qualities toward Notre Dame. Although, in some respects, Rudy is less a commercial than a statement on how difficult it is to afford an education. Hate on Rudy even for its litany of underdog sports cliches and studio-produced inspirational story.

But never, ever hate on Rudy for Rudy.

Regardless of what Rudy (Sean Astin) achieves after thousands of hours spent studying, the physical toll he puts on his body, and the strain he puts on those around him – all for one single goddamn (sorry) play – Rudy works.

Rudy is a movie about spirit and drive first

The key in this story isn’t Rudy bettering himself and achieving his dream, but rather how his effort inspires those around him. From the practice squad, he rallies his teammates, he pushes his roommate to excel, he changes his family’s mentality, and betters everyone who comes in contact with his spirit. That’s Rudy’s story, one less about college football than it is letting everyone else see what they can do or be… even if it’s for one single down during garbage time against Georgia Tech.

Rudy wants what he wants. One thing – to play for Notre Dame. It’s arguable why this is his life goal; the movie brings a number of possible reasons to help understand, from trauma caused by a factory job to wining his father’s affection to a bizarrely focused childhood obsession. Truth is, it doesn’t matter to us; it only matters to him.

Replace football with anything in life: A job, a relationship, a dream vacation; football is easily substituted. Rudy is a movie about spirit and drive first, about overcoming obstacles (some absurd) to live a life without regrets. Others fall on their journey through Rudy, including an egotistical and young Vince Vaughn who places blame on others for his own sloppy performance.

Argue over how Rudy achieves this message, dragging along sports movie cliches ad nauseam, and there’s no counter-debate. Rudy is that movie template, painfully so. Yet, its spirit combined with Astin’s endless wide-eyed enthusiasm proves infectious. Like Rocky before it, Rudy is recycled underdog filmmaking, but also like Rocky, the character and their story is solid and unbreakable.


An absolutely stunning master from Sony brings Rudy into the modern era remarkably well. The sharpness doesn’t waver, the grain structure is precise, and the texture doesn’t stop. The film stock does fluctuate in thickness, typically with the newly extended scenes (both the extended and theatrical cuts are on the UHD). While buzzy, the encode holds up without dissolving into chunks of chroma noise. It’s natural and clean, or as much as it could be.

Color sprouts some vibrant hues, whether the flames in the factory or the football jerseys. It’s one point away from oversaturation, but holds firm to keep the color in check. Spot on flesh tones don’t betray the organic source material.

Equally intense, Dolby Vision brings a wonderful spark to Rudy’s imagery. Molten metal in the factory, sun glistening from helmets, and interior lights all shimmer and glow. Peak brightness looks authentic, helped by the sustained black levels that don’t waver.


Immediately, the marching band’s drums separate and fill the soundstage, including the heights. That continues – Rudy isn’t shy about spreading into every speaker. Bar ambiance, game crowds, and the factory all utilize the available channels to their fullest. Arguably, it’s over aggressive, but the effect is no less notable; it’s like being in Rudy’s world.

Sadly, the bass is thin and non-existent. Heavy hits produce a small rumble, but that’s it for the low-end. Not even music can generate a jolt.


A new commentary on the director’s cut includes director David Anspaugh and writer Angelo Pizzo. Five more deleted scenes and a trailer finish out the UHD, but the Blu-ray is the same as before, including those bonuses. That includes a production featurette, a Sean Astin piece, and a true story documentary.

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While sappy studio melodrama, it’s impossible not to root for Rudy based purely on his raw determination.

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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 39 full resolution uncompressed 4K screen shots grabbed directly from the UHD:

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