HDD Study Hall: Paul Rudd

Posted Thu Aug 25, 2011 at 05:00 PM PDT by

by Luke Hickman

This week we're taking a look back at the impressive and diverse career of Paul Rudd. He can currently be seen in 'Our Idiot Brother,' a hilarious, heart-felt, R-rated indie comedy that premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.

Rudd is one of those rare actors that cannot be pegged to just one genre. Sure, he's best known for his comedic roles – because he's just so good at them – but he's just as fantastic at dramatic and romantic roles as he is comedies. From performing Shakespeare in Baz Luhrmann's 'Romeo + Juliet' and horror in 'Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers' to character turns in films like 'Forgetting Sarah Marshall' and the romantic lead in 'How Do You Know,' Rudd has done it all.

In many ways, Rudd is like John Cusack (By the way, where has he be lately?): both are great at comedy, great at drama, play perfectly convincing leading men, and they're completely charming. Personally, when playing love-lorn leads in romantic roles, each portrays the type of guy I feel like deep down inside, making it very easy to connect with them. I know I'm not the only guy who feels this way.

Listed below are five of Paul Rudd's credits that exemplify why he's so lovable, and why we never want him to disappear.

'Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy'

Playing field reported Brian Fantana, Rudd got everyone's attention with his sleazy mustached character. As a character actor, it feels like the role came naturally to Rudd as he grew out his chops, glued on the mustache, and donned the vintage suit and greasy long wig.

Perhaps his most notorious scene from 'Anchorman' is the one in which he convinces Ron that his Sex Panther cologne will win over new office hottie Veronica Corningstone. It's “illegal in nine countries,” is “made with bits of real panther,” and “60 percent of the time, works every time.” But let us not forget his fourth wall-breaking introduction, his tighty-whitey distraction dance, and his office freakout scenes.

Not only does Rudd take the cake for his character piece in 'Anchorman,' but also 'The 40-Year-Old Virgin,' 'Night at the Museum,' 'The Ex,' 'Walk Hard' and 'Forgetting Sarah Marshall.'

'I Love You, Man'

'I Love You, Man' just might be Rudd's funniest film to date. Perhaps it's the way that the script is written like a standard male/female romantic comedy, yet filled with two completely heterosexual grown adult males. If you were loosely paying attention to the film, you'd believe that it was about two gay men.

Coming off the success of 'Forgetting Sarah Marshall,' you'd think that 'I Love You, Man' was another Jason Segel-penned screenplay. The comedy lies within the same vein, it's just as witty and non-stop hilarious. You'd never guess that it was written by two guys who also wrote terrible films 'Little Fockers,' 'Doctor Dolittle,' and 'Along Came Polly.'

For those lucky enough to catch a Rush show last summer, you got to see Rudd and Segel reprise their roles as Peter Klaven and Sydney Fife in an on-stage extra.

To this day my poor wife is driven crazy be me telling her all of her accents sound like leprechauns and that I like to “slappa da bass, mon.”

'Role Models'

At first glance, Rudd's character in 'Role Models' isn't all that different from the one in 'I Love You, Man,' but when you put a little more thought into it, they're quite a bit different. In 'I Love You, Man,' Rudd played a genuinely nice, somewhat effeminate guy looking to gain a male best friend. In 'Role Models' he's quite a selfish prick. But that's not the reason 'Role Models' makes this list.

'Role Models' is worth noting because this is the first screenplay that Rudd wrote (with friends). Not only is the comedy up to par with that of seasoned writers, but it lets the inner geek shine. Is it odd to anyone else that movie dives deeply into live action role playing – so much so that one would have to participate in it to write about it in such detail? If you've ever known anyone involved is such highly nerdy associations, you know that 'Role Models' nailed its portrayal of the geek culture.

One of the best payoffs and climaxes to a film, there aren't many other comedies that get you so ramped up and excited as when Rudd puts on the costume and make-up and dives into the live-action battle, completely playing along with the part. No wonder Elizabeth Banks' character changed her opinion of him – he's geektastically awesome by the end!

'How Do You Know'

While everyone is quick to jump on the hate train when it comes to 'How Do You Know,' I truly believe that most people are judging it without having seen it. Not being a big fan of James L. Brooks, 'How Do You Know' is actually my favorite of his films. If every romantic comedy was written with the style of humor, the genuine heart and characters of 'How Do You Know,' I'd be a huge fan of the genre. It steers clear of cliché and isn't predictable in the slightest. It never feels the need to rush, it takes its time, naturally building up to a believable finale.

In 'How Do You Know,' Rudd plays an average nice guy subpoenaed for corporate fraud. The problem is that he has no idea what he has done and how to correct it, but because of legal requirements, he's forced to leave his job – the one place that can offer answers. As his entire life crumbles around him, he meets a charming girl (Reese Witherspoon) whose life is also falling apart. The two would make a perfect couple, only she's already taken.

'How Do You Know' is the prefect film to exemplify my idea of Rudd playing a character that any guy can connect with. Watching films like this, it's easy to place one's self in his shoes, often rhetorically making the same decisions that he makes. Along with John Cusack, Joseph Gordon-Levitt has this same ability.

If you fall into the category of people who have not seen 'How Do You Know' (which, judging by box office numbers, is most of you), do yourself the favor of checking it out. It will pleasantly surprise you – especially as Rudd charms his way through another fantastic role.

'Our Idiot Brother'

'Idiot Brother' director Jesse Peretz must enjoy working with Rudd, for this is their third time working together. The first was an indie flick called 'The Château' and the second was a cameo role in Zach Braff/Jason Bateman vehicle 'The Ex' as an uptight, greasy fine dining kitchen manager.

Watching the trailer, one could jump to the conclusion that Rudd simply plays a hippy version of dummy Brian Fantana – but one would be wrong to assume such a thing. Sure, he's kind of a dummy, but his 'Idiot' character Ned has nothing but great intentions. If you assume that the stupidity and naivete of Ned is nothing but a gag to create comedy, you're wrong. By the end of 'Our Idiot Brother,' Ned shows his true colors.

Again, Rudd is joined by a stellar supporting cast. With Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel, Emily Mortimer, Steve Coogan, Rashida Jones, Adam Scott, Kathryn Hahn and T.J. Miller supporting you, it would be hard to fail.

If you're as much of a Paul Rudd lover as I obviously am, go check out 'Our Idiot Brother' this weekend. I promise it will win you over from the very first scene. By the end, you'll be fairly surprised by how well-rounded an R-rated comedy it is.

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Tags: Fun Stuff, Luke Hickman, Paul Rudd, HDD Study Hall (all tags)