Movie vs. Reality: Rudy

By Felix Quinonez Jr.

July 11, 2012

Later in 50 First Dates, we discover Rudy was juicing.

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What the Movie Got Wrong

Before Notre Dame

Throughout the movie, we see various people try to make Rudy realize that his dream to play for Notre Dame is ridiculous. One of these people is his older brother Frank. From a very early age Frank was discouraging Rudy, telling him that he is too small to play football. But the fact is that Rudy didn’t have an older brother. Rudy was the oldest boy.

Towards the beginning of the movie we see Rudy sitting in a classroom at Joliet Catholic Academy. In the movie he has both male and female classmates, but Joliet was an all-boys school up until 1990, so there were no girls there when Rudy attended.

In the movie Rudy was a foundry worker for four years before he went to Notre Dame. But the fact is that Rudy spent some time in the Navy after high school.

At Notre Dame

While Rudy is trying to transfer to Notre Dame - and even after - he works part-time as a member at the Notre Dame groundskeeping staff. In the movie he becomes friends with one of his older co-workers, Fortune (played by Charles Dutton). Fortune not only got Rudy the job but he later becomes a sort of father figure for Rudy. Unfortunately he was a made up character. The real Rudy described Fortune as a composite character made up of all of the people who encouraged him to follow his dreams.


But the biggest change the movie made was how they portrayed Coach Devine. One of the main reasons Rudy gained a spot on the scout team was because the previous coach believed in Rudy. But that coach steps down and his successor is not as supportive of Rudy. In fact he was set against letting Rudy play in the last home game. The only reason Rudy gets to finally suit up s because the whole team decides to turn in their jerseys offering Rudy a spot in the game. In reality, Coach Devine was just as supportive of Rudy and it was actually his idea to let Rudy play.

Miscellaneous Errors

I’ve always been somewhat amazed by the fact that sports fans seem to be obsessed with stats and minute details. When I was doing research on the movie’s accuracy, I found a lot of inaccuracies that don’t actually have anything to do with the plot but they are kind of interesting.

When Rudy finally arrives at Notre Dame, he is shown walking across the main quad and the Golden Dome is behind him. This is the first time he sees the stadium, the only problem is there is no stadium at the south end of the main quad.

After Rudy is accepted into Notre Dame, he goes to the games and cheers for the team. In one of the games, the scoreboard clearly lists the opponent as Penn State. But apparently Notre Dame didn’t play Penn State while Rudy was a student there. This happened because the scene was shot at an actual Notre Dame home game versus Penn State in 1993.

Another mistake the movie makes is that it shows that the team jerseys have the players’ names printed on them. This wasn’t the case at the time that Rudy attended the school.

The Verdict

As you can see, there aren’t too many inaccuracies in Rudy. Keeping a reasonable running time seems to be the main motivator of the alterations. This is especially evident with the case of the Fortune character. Instead of having to introduce several characters that act as motivators for Rudy, they combined them to make Charles. But in the case of Rudy’s made up brother and the way it portrays Coach Devine, the movie seems to be pandering to the audience. It seems like they don’t have enough faith in the story and manufacture unnecessary “villains.”

The movie might be Rudy’s story but, more importantly, it is also about the universal the need to follow your dreams. Because of this, even the most blatant attempts to ramp up the melodrama don’t stop Rudy from being an entertaining and genuinely moving film.

Next Time: The Soloist

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