By Amy Nicholson
By Chris Packham
By David Kipen
By Stephanie Zacharek
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Caira LaVelle
By Zachary Wigon
By Scott Foundas
Rudy is essentially Hoosierson turf. Both are true underdog stories set in the state of Indiana and brought to the screen by native Indianan David Anspaugh and his writing partner, Angelo Pizzo (the same pair behind the forthcoming, locally filmed Game of Our Lives). Both are packed with battle-tested clichés intended to get tear ducts flowing, and both are extremely effective in attaining this goal. What gives Rudy a slight edge over its predecessor is that supporting players Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughn met on the set, which sowed the seeds for the delectable Swingers.
That doesn't absolve Rudyof one whopper of a cinematic sin: not dealing with the fact that the title character's elder brother, John, jacks Rudy's girlfriend (portrayed by the consistently grating Lili Taylor) while li'l bro is at a South Bend community college trying to get his grades up to Notre Dame admission standards. This isn't just any girlfriend; this is a woman Rudy contemplated buying a little house with while shelving his blue-and-gold dreams for a life alongside his siblings and father at a Joliet steel mill.
And when Rudy comes home for Christmas, what does he find under the tree? His big brother taking his girl to the pumphouse lounge, that's what. Anspaugh and Pizzo attempt to reconcile this by portraying John as the lone family member who's supportive of Rudy's gridiron aspirations. Horseshit: John breaks a code between brothers that you just don't break, and for that he deserves an incurable case of gonorrhea, a prolonged bout with leprosy and a one-way ticket to Hell. And all this for a poop sandwich like Lili Taylor? Low class, bro -- lower than low. Each week Mike Seely treks to the Schlafly branch of the St. Louis Public Library, where a staff member blindfolds him and escorts him to the movie shelves. After selecting a film at random, Seely checks it out and reviews it.
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