Monday, December 29, 2008

Paul Rudd

Okay, I’ll admit it. I have not been a huge Paul Rudd fan. I didn’t dislike him, just didn’t get what all the shouting was about. He always seemed like this generation’s Steve Guttenberg – nice looking, sorta funny but sorta boring.

But now that he’s one of the Judd Apatow players and every comedy made today is either by Judd Apatow or tries to be by Judd Apatow, I’ve seen Rudd a lot more lately. I warmed to him in KNOCKED UP, thought he was hilarious as John Lennon in WALK HARD, but was really impressed with his work in ROLE MODELS.

ROLE MODELS was the funniest movie I saw this year (sorry LOVE GURU fans). Paul Rudd is also credited as one of the writers (along with fifty other people and probably another thirty uncredited), but his comic performance is what really stood out for me.

And here’s the thing – he had the least showy part.

Jane Lynch (pictured right) steals the movie (as she does every movie), and Bobb’e J. Thompson, the little African-American kid who plays the little African-American kid is a riot. Seann William Scott has one act but does it well. Christopher Mintz-Plasse playing a young “me” was pitch-perfect, and Elizabeth Banks can do no wrong ever in my book. But it was Rudd who made the movie work.

Why?

Because he REACTED.

His reactions to the world around him not only allowed everyone else to shine but also grounded the movie. And while he aced that he also managed to play a disgruntled unlikable character in such a way that you not only liked him, you loved him. Hey, that’s comic acting! A lot harder to do than just to mug so big an IMAX screen can’t contain you and yell “Smo-kinnnnn’!!!”

So for his timing, generosity, and whatever he contributed to the screenplay, Paul Rudd has officially won me over. Not that he knows who I am or gives a shit. But I’m sure he thinks it’s better that anyone elevates him above Steve Guttenberg.

40 comments:

Anonymous said...

Anytime Jane Lynch pops up, even in The L Word, I just know she's going to make me squirm and make me laugh, scene the same. She's outrageous and she's clever with her delivery. A true scene stealer if there ever was.

Stacey

Jeff said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jeff said...

Every time I see him, I think of the name "Crap Bag," not because I think he's a bag of crap (I actually think he's pretty good) but rather because it marked one of his best moments on Friends.

Talk about typecasting. It's probably a lucky thing for him that most people do not refer to him as Crap Bag.

Barefoot Billy Aloha said...

Didn't Steve McQueen build his career by great reacting?

Maybe it was Butterfly McQueen.

...I get so confused...

Great Big Radio Guy said...

His SNL show this season was the funniest in a long time. Rudd LEARNED HIS LINES, and threw himself into the show. (And Beyonce' didn't hurt either.)

Just checked. They're rerunning it this Saturday.

xjill said...

I fell in love with Mr. Rudd during a 90s college years viewing of the classic "Overnight Delivery." Witherspoon & Rudd on a "wacky" road trip, how can you resist? Please follow this link for the awesome:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fAoB9vMwx7g

BTW, if you haven't seen the film, he is not mugging here, this is simply a moment of comedic genius.

D. McEwan said...

"Great Big Radio Guy said...
His SNL show this season was the funniest in a long time. Rudd LEARNED HIS LINES"

How could he have done that? The reason they do that show off of cards is it is rewritten right up to show time.

I was lucky with Paul Rudd. The first time I saw him was as Duke Orsino in Shakespeare's TWELFTH NIGHT, opposite Helen Hunt and Kyra Sedgewick, an excellent production in which Rudd was very good (And learned his lines, as the script has been set for the last 400 years), as well as being freakin' gorgeous. So he made a really fine first impression on me. I haven't seen any of his Apatow films, but I liked his Shakespearean work.

Now can we get back to discussing no-talents we can snark at? This saying-nice-things-about-talented-people thing is weird. In the words of Jack Benny: "If you can't say something mean, shut up."

Great Big Radio Guy said...

"Now can we get back to discussing no-talents we can snark at?"

Yeah! Bobby Moynahan, the new guy on SNL who is the worst cue-card reader since Horatio Sanz, but without the wit, charisma or screen presence.

(That was a double snark.)

Joe said...

Of all the movies Jane Lynch steals -- and you're right, Levine, she steals all of them -- there are few better than A Mighty Wind.

P.S. My WVW is "excit" which which is the door one uses when one is happy to leave.

Anonymous said...

I thought of all the over the top characters in Anchorman, he hit the tone the best. They all had that smugness down, but his had a less winking to the camera than every one else's. Same with 40 year old virgin with his horndog act being more real than the other two.

Another jane lynch scene stealer, Adam Carolla's The Hammer. Nice little movie, but it looks even smaller after she comes in and smokes her scene.

D. McEwan said...

Much as it galls me to pay yet another compliment, but Jane Lynch also walks off with BEST IN SHOW, though ably supposrted by Jennifer Coolege, and Fred Willard owns every moment he's on camera. And this in a movie full of adorable, scene-stealing doggies.

But amen on Bobby Moynahan. I haven't been too bothered by his cue card readings, but on the rare occasions where he has trotted out a character, I found him obnoxious and not-funny. He's one of the reasons I always watch it on tape later, because he's a walking fast-forward button cue.

WV: scement: what the Mafia sticks actors' feet in before tossing them off a pier.

Tim W. said...

Not to toot my own horn (I don't actually own one), but it wasn't that long ago that I came to Paul Rudd and Role Models defense on this very blog. I like my humour like I like my diapers: dry. Paul Rudd has deliciously dry humour and I think of anyone else were in the same role in Role Models you would have hated the character too much to care about him.

rob! said...

sorry LOVE GURU fans

sorry LOVE GURU fan

corrected.

Anonymous said...

IMO Paul Rudd and Maura Tierney give their best performances ever in Diggers. Not a funny movie - far from it - ergo probably out of whack with this blog - but still.

Vermonter17032 said...

I've been a Paul Rudd fan since I saw him in Clueless. He's not only a clever comedic actor, he's also a good overall actor (see Diggers), which is why he's five times the performer of Steve Gutenberg, whose only really good movie was Diner.

Mary Stella said...

Jane Lynch is like a comic movie Everywoman. I can never remember her name, but when I see her in a movie, I'll say things like, "That's the actress who was so funny as the dog handler in Best in Show" or the (fill in the blank). With all she's done, and how well she does it, I'm surprised she's not more of a household name.

Ah, maybe she is and I'm simply clueless. Either option is viable.

My wv is elwin -- as in some guy who had one big hit song back in the 70s.

Steven said...

Judd Apatow is overrated. I haven't really liked any of his movies and your right, he's make like every comedy for the past three years, which kind of frustrating for us non Apatow fans, I don't understand why everybody worships him as a comedy genius when he uses cursing (a.k.a "raunchy humor") as a crutch in his otherwise lame scripts. I believe cursing has a place in comedy, but you shouln't fill up a movie with curse words just to justify, or to earn, an R rating.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Rudd is also a very good funny dancer.

rms said...

Steve Gutenberg was also good in American Werewolf in London and a nice little Hitchcockian thriller called The Bedroom Window, also staring the wonderful Elizabeth McGovern who steals that movie.

My WWW: buyani - what people do on Boxing Day, buy any. (Okay, I never would have won the contest.)

sonderangerbot said...

I feel the same way about Rudd as I do about most of these "Jew Pack" guys (except Jason Segel, he is always genius); sometimes he's funny and other times he seems to settle for being himself, what he considers a really cool guy, in a supposedly funny movie. Or is that smugness?

Dr. Shrinker said...

Steve Gutenberg wasn't in American Werewolf in London. Sheesh. Get your facts straight.

He invented the printing press.

Paul said...

I've always been a huge fan of Rudd. Dry wit is severely lacking in today's comedies, and the fact that Rudd started as a very good dramatic actor and became an even better comic actor is also rare. Most of Apatow's clan are just one trick ponies.

Anonymous said...

Paul said: "Most of Apatow's clan are just one trick ponies."

agreed! except for Seth Rogen, who also writes. And Steve Carell, who also writes. And Jason Segal, who also writes. And Ben Stiller, who also writes and directs. And...

Paul, you got a problem with actors who can also write?

A. Buck Short said...

So, what are you saying, Ken, The Chicken Chronicles was chopped chicken liver? Of course Stevo was working in the shadow of the master Phil Silvers...

Now about all these people stealing pictures. Where's Jack Valenti now that we need him?

Kirk Jusko said...

That hilarious scene in DINER where Paul Reiser's hinting that he wants Steve Gutenberg roast beef, and Steve won't give it to him unless he comes right out and asks for it.

Artistically, if not monetarily, I think that when both men peaked.

Kirk Jusko said...

Wait a second. That's not right. Reiser was in MAD ABOUT YOU. I was thing MY TWO DADS.

shantio: an Italian slum

Chris said...

Nice. I'm glad you came around to liking Rudd. When 40 yr old Virgin came out I was sort of surprised to see him in a comedy role, but I think he nailed it. And now he's a solid Apatow player and an official frat-pack memeber.

D. McEwan said...

Well I'm sure Steve Guttenberg WOULD have been good in AN AMERICA WEREWOLF IN LONDON, especially if a werewolf had eaten him. (rms: that he was good should have been your first clue that it wasn't Guttenberg.)

I saw a 3-D "comedy" with Guttenberg about 100 years ago in which he played an invisible man who became a spy. There was a scene where a girl had to have sex on camera with an invisible Steve Guttenberg. That poor, humiliated actress. It was truely cringe-making to watch.

But he was okay in THE BOYS FROM BRAZIL, where he had a small role at the beginning, before getting knifed to death by Gregory Peck.

WV: wingsme: What I said when I read for a role on WINGS. (A five-line as a butler. Didn't get it.)

Ref said...

I've been madly in love with Jane Lynch since her very small and not at all funny part in The Fugitive. She has an amazing presence and GREAT eyes. Broke my heart to find out she really is gay.

sugarmeg said...

i've loved Paul Rudd since his great performance in Clueless (you know it's based on Emma by Jane Austen!)

just have to say thanks to Ken, and especially to all the other commenters! this is the only blog in my Reader that i routinely click through to read the whole entry and all the comments!

(WV: unctio - italian for kiss-ass)

Tim W. said...

Actually, Reiser was in Diner, My Two Das and Mad About You.

Mary Stella said...

Actually, Reiser was in Diner, My Two Das and Mad About You.

Maybe we should play Six Degrees of Paul Reiser. He was in My Two Dads, along with Greg Evigan who earlier starred in B.J. and the Bear with a chimpanzee named Sam who also starred in . . . Ok, couldn't find further references for Sam. I guess one so-so show really can kill a career.

D. McEwan said...

"Ref said...
I've been madly in love with Jane Lynch since her very small and not at all funny part in The Fugitive. She has an amazing presence and GREAT eyes. Broke my heart to find out she really is gay."

Whereas I was delighted (and SO unsurprised) to find she was gay. Another winner for our side!

And living proof that dykes CAN be funny!

jbryant said...

Rudd is indeed brilliant in Role Models, an utterly formulaic story that soars on the strength of that cast.

As for Apatow, almost all the comedies he's been affiliated with have worked for me to one degree or another (I think I've seen all but Drillbit Taylor). Granted, those of us who loved Freaks and Geeks are predisposed to dig these flicks, which feature so many of Apatow's F&G alums. It's like watching family, in a way.

I'm always curious about the haters though: If you don't like the type of films Apatow produces, why do you see them all? And if you DON'T see them all, then how do you know what you're talking about?

Steven, the fact that there are "non-Apatow fans" such as yourself means that by definition not "everybody" thinks he's a comedy genius. Those who hate popular things are never in quite as small a minority as they think they are, especially once the backlash kicks in.

Anonymous said...

"agreed! except for Seth Rogen, who also writes. And Steve Carell, who also writes. And Jason Segal, who also writes. And Ben Stiller, who also writes and directs. And..."

I only have a problem with actors who are also writers when they suck at both. Just because they write and get credit for it professionally, does not mean in any way, shape or form that they are actually GOOD at it.

Sheesh. I mean, one only has to watch a bit of that retarded Pineapple shit to know that!

Stacey

WVW is (no shitting around), rearsins. That one's way too easy! Heh.

alan said...

I wish I had my own talk show so I could introduce Paul Rudd as "this generation’s Steve Guttenberg."

Bryan said...

In case you're wondering about how many people contributed to the Role Models script ... here are the names from one of the later drafts ...

Big Brothers
aka
Little Big Men
aka
Role Models
By
Blake Herron
Based on an idea by Luke Greenfield
Revisions by
Tim Dowling
John Altschuler & David Krinsky
David Guarascio & Moses Port
Steve Pink
Etan Cohen
Evan Goldberg & Paul Rudd
David Wain & Ken Marino & Paul Rudd
Current Revisions
By
David Wain & Ken Marino & Paul Rudd & Jon Zack

Sebastian said...

Steve Guttenberg has ONE good movie, Police Academy. The rest sucks donkey balls (sorry).

Paul Rudd is an absolute gem.

He was one of the reasons why the 9th Season of Friends didn't suck (he married Phoebe, remember?), though he did not manage to save season 10 (which sucketh big time)

"40 year old virgin" is one of the movies he's absolutely great in, but honestly he's already been close to perfect in 1995 when he starred in "Clueless" with Donald Faison (and that blone woman).

So I'm really a bit irritated you didn't notice him before, especially because he's a "Friend of the" Daily Show with Jon Stewart. He's really a great guest every time he's there and that's really really often.

Ref said...

"D. McEwan said...

"Ref said...
I've been madly in love with Jane Lynch since her very small and not at all funny part in The Fugitive. She has an amazing presence and GREAT eyes. Broke my heart to find out she really is gay."

Whereas I was delighted (and SO unsurprised) to find she was gay. Another winner for our side!

And living proof that dykes CAN be funny!"

I didn't know it was a war. Maybe we can still have a platonic relationship? No Moms Mabley jokes, please. And what idiot said, against a whole LOT of evidence, that dykes couldn't be funny?

Ken said...

I'm late to this conversation but am surprised that no one has mentioned Rudd's work in Reno 911!, which is hi-larious.