6 Movies For Those Of Us Who Just Can’t Get Enough Paul Rudd
It’s time for some vintage Rudd.
Paul Rudd is a funny guy and a cool dad. The 53-year-old actor (though you’d never guess by looking at him) is a gifted comedian, so it made sense when Marvel Studios cast him as Ant-Man — one of the more inherently silly superheroes from the comics — nearly a decade ago. The 2015 Ant-Man was a comedy as much as it was a heist-flavored superhero movie, and the 2018 sequel might have been even funnier. Compared to several other heroes in the MCU, Ant-Man was the little guy, and not just literally. His movies had smaller, lighter stakes, and they felt like fun breathers compared to some of the heavier, more epic films in the franchise. Rudd’s effortless, slightly goofy charm helped contribute to the overall Paul Ruddness of his Marvel appearances.
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania — in theaters now — doesn’t have the grounded stakes of the previous installments. Instead, it sets the action pits Rudd’s Scott Lang against the Thanos-level big bad, Kang the Conqueror, played expertly by Jonathan Majors. It’s a load-bearing movie for the MCU’s next phase, but, regrettably, Ant-Man was probably the wrong hero for the job, in part because he’s supposed to be the chill, silly one.
For those of us who didn’t get our Rudd fix in Quantumania, we know his best roles are interestingly, very often, supporting roles. Of course, the Ant-Man actor would know how to make a small role have a huge impact. Here are six great movies that celebrate the wonderfully understated impact of Paul Rudd.
6. Wet Hot American Summer (2001)
Rudd isn’t the star of this beloved cult comedy classic, though Wet Hot American Summer is so jam-packed with comedy stars before they were super famous that you can understand why rereleases would make Rudd, Amy Poehler, Bradley Cooper, and Elizabeth Banks out to be bigger parts of the movie than they actually were. That said, Rudd is exceptional as Andy, the jerkwad boyfriend of Marguerite Moreau’s Katie, and the romantic rival of Michael Showalter’s Coop as they all work at a summer camp. Every bit of Rudd’s meatheaded dismissiveness is comedy gold — especially when he pouts and belabors cleaning up after himself when Janeane Garofalo’s camp director calls him out. It’s near-perfect physical comedy.
Wet Hot American Summer is streaming to rent on YouTube and elsewhere.
5. They Came Together (2014)
If you liked Wet Hot American Summer, you owe it to yourself to check out a rom-com spoof from the makers of that movie. They Came Together is a little uneven but very funny, and it stars Rudd and Amy Poehler. It’s much better than most romcoms, and an underrated movie in general.
They Came Together is streaming on Freevee
4. Anchorman (2004)
Chances are, if you’re a father reading this website right now, you’re from the era when Anchorman was the most-quotable movie around. The Will Ferrel-led comedy is a classic, but sometimes, when a film becomes such a big part of the pop culture landscape, you start to wonder if it’s to the movie’s detriment. Are lines like “60% of the time, it works every time,” still funny? Well, when they’re delivered by Rudd, playing the suave field reporter Brian Fantana, they sure are. As in many of his best roles, Rudd brings a blithe, entitled, dumbness to the screen, yet he’s so damn charming that you can’t help but love to see him.
Anchorman is streaming on Paramount+.
3. Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008)
When Jason Segel’s Peter gets dumped by Kristen Bell’s titular Sarah Marshall, he heads to Hawaii to try to get over her — an effort made harder by the fact that Sarah also happens to be vacationing there, too, with her new boyfriend. Forgetting Sarah Marshall is a more emotionally mature and warmhearted film than the pure goof-fest that Anchorman was, but it’s no less hilarious or quotable. A lot of the credit for that goes to Rudd, who plays the incredibly spaced-out surfing instructor Kunu — a man so air-headed that he earnestly talks about no longer wearing a watch upon moving to the island because his phone has a clock, which does the same thing.
Forgetting Sarah Marshall is streaming on Freevee.
2. Ant-Man (2015)
Yes, for as much as Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania does not work as a showcase of Rudd’s comedic talents, his first MCU film (and the follow-up Ant-Man and the Wasp) are both delightful romps that split the difference between being superhero films and comedies. Rudd largely eschews the entitled doofiness that some of his precious roles exhibited and instead comes across as a very “aww shucks” sort of superhero. Rudd is exactly the actor the franchise needed to get mainstream movie audiences to take a superhero named “Ant-Man” seriously… but not too seriously.
Ant-Man (2015) is streaming on Disney+.
1. Clueless (1995)
One of Rudd’s earliest roles is also one of his best. Clueless, the 1993 teen comedy classic about the rich kids of Beverly Hills, starred Alicia Silverstone as Cher Horowitz, a stylish and, well, clueless high schooler. Rudd plays her older step-brother, and his sense of social consciousness clashes with her initially vapid and self-interested lifestyle. However, by the end of the movie, the two become close to one another and eventually admit their mutual feelings. (Is it a little weird that they’re step-siblings? Sure, but they’re not technically related so it’s okay?) Rudd is playing more of a straight man here than he would in many of his later comedy roles, but it’s still a charming performance — you can see why Cher fell for him!
Clueless is streaming on Paramount+.