OK, I’ll admit it. I’m a sucker for a feel-good movie. Now, I’m not just talking strictly happy endings, boy-gets-girl films here, and certainly not necessarily the Oscar winners. I’m talking about the movies that make you want to go and DO something, like end world hunger, follow your dream, become President of the United States. You know, the little things.
After I saw “Legally Blonde“, I (for one brief insane moment) considered taking the LSAT just to prove I could get into law school. When looking at possible careers, I never once considered (and have never seriously since) becoming a lawyer. Law school wasn’t even on my distant radar.
“Field of Dreams” is another favorite. Not that I have aspirations of building large athletic complexes in the middle of Iowa corn fields, but more of the “everyone has a purpose to fulfill” dream.
I was stunned (and quite frankly, disappointed) at the end of “Pay It Forward”, but the message was so clear. Giving with no thought of receiving is such a noble act, and I wish that more people followed this lead.
But my absolute all-time, hands-down, without question FAVORITE movie of this type is “Rudy”. Now you have to understand that, while I enjoy watching college football, I’m not a fanatic. While I certainly appreciate the almost legendary draw of Notre Dame, I didn’t go to school there. So why is it that EVERY time I see this movie, I sob through the last half-hour like a baby?
“Rudy” is about perseverance. Never giving up. Here was this working-class Catholic kid from Joliet, Illinois who always dreamed of playing football for the University of Notre Dame. College wasn’t really on his family’s radar, let alone Notre Dame, and yet he made it happen. Worked his tail off to get into Notre Dame as a transfer student, then to make it as a walk-on for the Fighting Irish.
There is something about seeing this kid (played convincingly by Sean Astin) telephoning his dad, who never believed that Rudy would play for Notre Dame, to tell him that he would indeed be dressing for one game during his senior season. It sends chills just thinking about it.
After much turmoil on the team (Coach Ara Parseghian’s resignation, hiring of Coach Dan Divine), and only after the entire starting lineup requests that Rudy be allowed to “dress in their place”, Divine allows Rudy the opportunity to dress. Not only that, he actually gets a minute or two of play. Divine, being a newby to the hallowed stadium, cannot fathom why the players (and even the coaches) are so gung-ho on letting this clearly inferior player actually get field time. But play he does, showing everyone in the world the value of perseverance.
Tears flow freely every time I watch Rudy’s teammates carry him off the field as though he had just scored the winning point in a nail-biter of a game, instead of making a tackle that had absolutely no effect on the outcome of this Irish trouncing of Georgia Tech during the 1975 season.
Daniel Ruettiger graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1976. This, in and of itself, is an accomplishment to be lauded. But because he also pursued with singular focus his dream of playing Irish Football, he is an inspiration. Watch the film with lots of kleenex, and even if you have no love of football, you’ll hear the “echoes cheering the name” of Rudy and Notre Dame.