It’s Sean Astin’s Birthday, So Here’s Why I’ve Never Seen ‘Rudy’, And Never Will
Several years ago I was attending the San Diego Comic-Con with a friend, and we had planned to check out the exhibit hall together after it closed. We were allowed to do that because my friend (let's call him Jim ... because that's his real name) had a vendor's pass, as he was working one of the booths -- a popular bookseller. And there's no way to navigate the exhibit hall during normal hours because of the overwhelming crush of geekoid masses.
So with about five minutes until closing time I show up at the booth, as people are lined up to make their final purchases. Five minutes later, everyone is gone, and the hall is almost empty. But my friend couldn't leave his post, because there was one customer who lingered, browsing the books.
So I walk up to Jim and say, "What's the holdup? Let's go." JIM: "Can't. Hobbit won't leave."
Then he pointed to Sean Astin, still browsing books.
Yep. Then a fan walked up to Astin and the two began to chat ... and I don't remember if Jim and I ever got to leave that day. "Hey Bilbo! Some of us have lives!" would have been an appropriate thing for me to shout, and yes I know he was Samwise but Bilbo is funnier but anyway I didn't say it.
The point is that I disliked Sean Astin before that incident and that made me dislike him even more, and today is his birthday. Happy 45th.
Of course his most notorious role is that of Rudy, from the movie of the same name. Notorious because there seems to be a great divide between the people who adore this film and those who hate it. You can guess where my sentiments lie. As I've disliked Astin since The Goonies, I never even saw Rudy, and have never regretted that choice.
Most people are suckers for the plucky underdog redemption story, and I'd agree that, done well, such a story has its charms. My two favorites: Gunga Din, the 1939 classic based on Rudyard Kipling's story of the Indian camp follower who longs to be a British soldier; and of course Babe -- the greatest under
dog pig story ever told. After Babe, the underdog movie should have been retired, because nothing will ever equal it.
— UPROXX (@UPROXX) February 25, 2016
Rudy of course is based on the story of Daniel "Rudy" Ruettiger, who really did dream of playing for Notre Dame, and I guess actually got into a game. From what I understand, Rudy didn't have the grades to get into Notre Dame at first, but enrolled in nearby Holy Cross Junior College to try and fix that. It turns out he had dyslexia, so a tutor helped him overcome that. There's your movie right there -- that would have been fine. But ... Rudy wants to play football!
Christ, here we go. Cue inspiring musical score.
Joe Montana, who played for Notre Dame at that time, once told me that the real Rudy was so annoying and chatty that Notre Dame players used to stuff him in garbage cans and laundry bins. The players hated him.
But movie audiences love him -- at least the version played by Astin. Made in 1993, it was the first movie allowed to be shot on the Notre Dame campus since Knut Rocke: All-American, in 1940. No doubt that's because it perpetuated the Notre Dame myth -- that the Fighting Irish are paragons of strength and virtue, and all other universities are inferior universities.
So happy birthday, Sean Astin. Next time you and I are at the Comic-Con and the clock strikes five, hopefully you'll leave in timely fashion. Or, as I am likely to say, in a gentle tone: "That'll do, pig. That'll do."
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