Celebrating Paul Rudd's Hysterical Body of Work

From Clueless to Anchorman, there's a lot to love

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Splashed on the covers of magazines, all over the late night circuit and now starring in this weekend's summer blockbuster Dinner for Schmucks: Paul Rudd is everywhere. Though not everyone's optimistic about his new film, the New Jersey-born funnyman is a critics' favorite. Across the Web, writers are paying homage to his body of work:

  • From the Beginning, a Classically Trained Comic, writes Sam Adams at Salon: "Allow us to make a modest proposal: Paul Rudd is one of the great comic leading men of his generation. With his boyish charm and unassuming good looks, he could easily have ended up as a romantic-comedy lightweight, following the template laid out by his breakthrough role in 'Clueless.' But instead, he's spent much of the last decade surrounding himself with stand-ups and sketch comics, matching wits with Steve Carell and Seth Rogen in 'The 40-Year-Old Virgin' and guesting as an oily Lamaze instructor on 'Reno 911.' Although he studied Jacobean drama at Oxford, Rudd's classical background hasn't prevented him from improvising alongside club-hardened comics, a talent that serves him mightily well in 'Dinner for Schmucks.'"
  • You Can't Beat 'Wet Hot American Summer', writes an adoring Elbert Ventura at Slate:
Rudd's comic talent first became apparent in 2001's Wet Hot American Summer. Made by the folks behind the MTV sketch comedy show The State, the movie affectionately spoofs '80s pop culture... [Rudd] stole every scene he was in as Andy, the sleazeball camp counselor. In Rudd's hands, Andy becomes the biggest asshole you knew in high school, fearlessly amped up to 11. Playing the guy who gets the hot girl—and who throws her away just because he can—Rudd pushes past believability into hysterical hyperbole, the obnoxious bad boy in quotes. In the middle of a make-out session, Andy suddenly pulls away and accuses the girl of 'suffocating' him—then goes on to scratch his behind extravagantly. ('My butt itches,' he remarks, peevishly.) Making out with another girl, he breaks off, sneering, 'You taste like a burger. I don't like you anymore.' But it's his aria of exasperation, a temper tantrum in the camp cafeteria, that has become one of the movie's best-remembered scenes:

  • 'Anchorman' Was the Breakout Performance, writes Mike Kujak at Flick Sided:
While most men in this film could be labeled schmucks, the Bry man Fantana still succeeds in articulating just how moronic he is. This is an important film for Rudd, and really any comedian involved, because it brings the world of Ferrell/McKay collaborations together with a little comedy clique called the Apatow productions. If you were part of this movie, your career has probably improved since and Rudd is no exception. It would be another few years until he became a leading man but I’d be willing to bet that this was the performance where people really first started asking “Who’s this guy?”

  • Paul Rudd Was the Only Redeeming Aspect of 'I Love You, Man,' writes Ventura: "Rudd is constrained by the dictates of a rote script. But between the atrocious lines, Rudd finds room for improvisational flourishes that give the film its only jolt of spontaneous energy. [Rudd's] flailing stabs at freestyle dudespeak offer the movie's funniest moments":