the Uncategorised: The underrated RISE of Paul Rudd

Paul Rudd. Are you smiling? I smile when I speak his name; I am both a bit odd that way but have a genuine love in my heart for this guy. It’s not a thing, like the one I have for the entire male cast of Grey’s Anatomy/New Girl or Ryan Gosling, but a Tom Hanks kind of fondness. The love I can only explain as adoration, respect and pure glee when I watch him on-screen. This guy is well-known but considering how long he has been around and how brilliant he is at his job, there are not enough praises in his name. Lets assess and bask in the products of his talent – all the while pin pointing why I (we) should love him more.

I don’t know about you but I think I remember him as Paris before Clueless. I know the latter was far more superior to any young girl growing up in the 90s however let me explain why I switched these films: I was obsessed with Leonardo DiCaprio. Probably what all these Bieber/ Twilight fans are expressing currently, I was that cray-cray over Leo so for me Baz Lurhmann’s production of Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet (that is how you must announce it) was what I was hung up on, and I remember Paul in this first because of my Leo obsession. In fact even though he played the slightly cheesy courtier to Juliet, complete with a ‘dashing’ smile and stiff hair, he made me laugh then. It’s the dancing scene. You know the scene where she has the angel wings and Romeo watches her from behind a pillar (after naughtily trying to frolic behind a fish tank and across the balcony of the great hall? Yes. If you watch closely you see Paul Rudd take Claire Danes hand and perform the cringiest of all cringe hand fan and wave – causing an incredulous Juliet to burst in to giggles. One of the best scenes from a less than tertiary actor if I ever did see one. That’s when I started to sit up and take notice of this funny guy.

I can’t tell you how many times I have seen this film. Honestly, I can’t because I don’t know, it is perhaps one of the best teen flicks to define a generation of young people and lay the foundation for many movies to come in style, language and even execution that had previously only been attributed to teen flicks by John Hughes and subsequently Tina Fey (Mean Girls). Clueless is adored in epic proportions because it was clever, had a cast of wonderfully talented young actors and in large part because of Paul Rudd. As Cher’s step-brother and… love interest (cough), Rudd is actually a dreamboat in this film. In fact I think (Anchorman aside) this is the one film I kind of fancied him,  it was an example of things to come. His character utilises the many  comical meets cynical everyman qualities Rudd is known for today.  That scene where we see Josh and Tai (Brittany Murphy) being all hands on and friendly…ugh. And when he called Cher a ‘Brat?’ rude; he’s only Josh for goodness sakes and he clearly can not dance;  so why is when Tai confesses her intentions towards him to Cher  does our heart sink ?  or when the slo mo shots of his piercing green eyes and chestnut curls suddenly making our hearts race? … Oh my god…we love Josh! : ‘End scene’

Oh and that kiss at the end with General Publics ‘Tenderness’ playing in the background. Amazing. If it wasn’t for Weird Science doing almost the same thing to the same track a decade or more earlier, I would say to Amy Heckerling…that it was inspired.

Now, I think what really catapulted him to international recognisable status was ‘Friends‘; Pheobe Buffay’s boyfriend and subsequent Husband Mike. We all loved Mike. He was the every-man, he probably could have been the 7th ‘friend’ if they weren’t all so clique. His straight comedy in the face of absurdity (Pheobe/Hank Azaria’s character, the whole cast of friends) would have had us dub him as ‘the sane one’ the less than sarcastic, neurotic and cuter version of Chandler Bing.

Anchorman: The legend of Ron Burgundy. Judd Apatow’s best production if we discount Freaks & Geeks and Undeclared and perhaps Paul Rudd’s most silliest and by default funniest role to date. Ok that is debatable – I can name a few films where he’s funnier as a lead – however everyone in this film was brilliant. It was well written, acted and improvised; Rudd was hot stuff as Brian Fantana; what a 70s name, people don’t have names like that any more unless they’re part of the Mob. Fantana’s alpha male persona as a MAN of that era is comical, exaggerated but spot on. Made up of a thick moustache, hairy chest, medallion and penchant for foul MAN eu de toilette. It’s one of his best roles ever, granted, and it definitely put him on the map and secured his comedy status furthermore.

However it is probably his return to the straight and cynical…slightly more of a ‘douche’, funny guy next to Steve Carell’s innocent  40 year old Virgin that perhaps cemented Rudd’s status in the new generation – not the Frat pack (Ben Stiller et al) the Prat pack (aka Apatow gang) one…kind of I get confused –  of comedy Kings and Queens. At this moment in time he’d more than paid his dues in bit parts and supporting roles, but having said that at this point he was at his peak as a supporting actor. It’s true: Paul Rudd is perhaps one of the best kinds of supporting actors. Take Knocked Up, Forgetting Sarah Marshall. All brilliant films with a brilliant turn from Mr Rudd in them. It was in Knocked Up that I actually relished in the secondary characters relationship more than I did the protagonists. Leslie Mann as his slightly fed up ballsy wife was a perfect match to his smart-mouthed complacent and idiotic role as her husband. Now Judd Apatow is making a movie (This is 40)about that specific relationship because he realised that the audience wanted to see more of the funny. More of the Rudd.

LIKE we saw in I love you, Man – Now this film with the exception of Our Idiot Brother is, in my opinion, the actors best leading man role by a long mile. Perhaps easy to say because he hasn’t got many but for real Rudd’s performance as the serial monogamist, slightly awkward Peter ‘slappin da bass’ Klaven  on the hunt for some bromance is so endearing and heartfelt. Rudd’s letting loose scenes during the RUSH music scenes are so fantastic. You know it’s real. Aside from that there are the slight quirks to Peter’s character. Like the short scenes that take place in his office between his co-workers. ‘Hi Caroline’ he sings to a lady who sashays by, totally a normal thing but so funny in the way he delivers that line, his eyes all lit up; the scene when he finally tells that douche bag Tevin where to go, he shoots one of the women a classic ‘I can not believe I just did that, oh snap!’ type of looks – he’s clearly a woman’s man. Until he meets Segel of course.

His third round on the silver screen (as far as I know) alongside the hilarious Steve Carell in Dinner for Schmucks is nothing short of absurd. It’s expected when these two are in a movie together; with Carell as the idiotic crazy to Rudd’s neurotic crazy. Bizarre premise for a film and yet if we’re looking at buddy comedies as far back as Martin and Lewis, Pryor and Wilder or even Steve Martin and everyone, this is comedy gold. Paul’s performance in this film is borderline mean, but for some reason you still want him to win that Schmucks trophy. How can a man be so likable and yet so mean in one moment. Ask Paul Rudd. This film is further proof of his ability to be paired up with top, slightly deranged comedians and still come off as the sharp-witted, sardonic balancing act amongst the madness. There are some seriously cringe worthy moments in this movie that provide plenty of laughs and that is down to Paul Rudd’s reactions to Carell’s  equally brilliant over-reacting. Also Zach Galafianakis and Chris O’Dowd, also brilliant. If you like crying when laughing because you’re in pain from laughing…watch this.

The last two movies, and most recent, probably haven’t set the box office alight are still reasons enough to praise the work of Mr Rudd. How Do You Know is perhaps the most weak and slightly depressing romantic comedies I have ever seen. Despite a winning combo of Owen Wilson and Reese Witherspoon (none of whom have made great film choices recently) this film bizarrely boasts a starring turn from Jack Nicholson. JACK NICHOLSON. If this film was a little more structured, made sense and had actors who were perhaps more suited to the roles that Wilson and Witherspoon took on, then it would have been a hit. However it didn’t. Funny-man Paul still brought what he could to this flighty story, but there is only so much a man can work with. He was perhaps the only saving grace about that shoddy film, and I love Reese and Owen and JACK NICHOLSON? I love that guy!

Now if you my read my Our Idiot Brother review then you will know how much I enjoyed this film. It is most definitely one of the most endearing indie comedies, and it is without a doubt a better film because of its leading man. Paul Rudd really excels some in this film, and the beauty is, he’s not playing the wise guy regular Joe. This time round he’s stepping out of his comfort box, or the box in which he tends to be lumbered in and takes on a more eccentric leading man role that is perhaps usually aligned with actors such as Will Ferrell, Steve Carell and Jack Black. It’s a brilliant breath of fresh air and there are no major talent’s from the Prat pack to contend with. He steals every scene with his sincerity and idealism as Ned the idiot brother. After the corkers he had, he deserved a film like this. I can not wait for the This is 40, because aside from the usual Apatow Prat pack gang and  but will watch the films above (with the exception of How Do You Know) to keep me occupied till then.

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