The Essential Paul Rudd Watchlist

In the last couple years, Paul Rudd has been on an even higher than usual, er, high.

Named as People's Sexiest Man for 2021, hosting Saturday Night Live, and coming in February, his new film Ant-Man and Wasp: Quantumania is set to launch MCU's Phase 5.

Paul Rudd is one of our more fascinating actors. From being a comedic genius to everyone’s dream boyfriend from Clueless and beyond, there are plenty of movies to love out of Rudd’s filmography.

From This Is 40 to Ant-Man and more, let’s talk about Paul Rudd’s movies and how to enjoy everyone’s favorite immortal actor.

The 40 Year-old Virgin

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Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

While we all love to scream Kelly Clarkson’s name like Steve Carell in this movie, The 40 Year-Old Virgin also features Paul Rudd as the annoying friend who loves to mock his friends and their journeys in life. The movie isn’t one that has probably aged well and even at the time had jokes that weren’t great, but there is something charming about Paul Rudd in any movie that made part of it worth it.

The movie is simple: Andy (Carell) is a 40-year-old man who loves his action figures and works at a media store, and is also a virgin. When his friends find out, their goal is to help him lose his virginity and it goes sideways at every given turn. First of all, let him have his toys. I know it was 2005 but RUDE. Second, this movie is the epitome of boys being boys but also it is sadly funny at times so do it for Rudd.

This Is 40

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Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

Only Paul Rudd can take a secondary character and make him so interesting that fans want to see a spin-off story about him. That's what happened with This Is 40. Based on Rudd’s character from Knocked Up, married to Leslie Mann’s Debbie, Rudd played Pete, a man who loves music, baseball, and is trying to navigate his life as a father, while still trying to be true to himself.

This Is 40 works because of Rudd and Mann’s power together. But it also has iconic moments like Maude Apatow crying about finishing Lost as a show. It is a romantic comedy of sorts about a couple who have already been together and are just trying to understand who they are within their relationship. It's surprisingly charming and fun and that is fully because of Paul Rudd and his ability as an actor to rope you into his character’s story and keep you there.

Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy

Image Credit: DreamWorks Pictures.

Every moment of Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy is pure chaos. It is part of the nature of that sort of comedy. But when you have Paul Rudd spraying himself with a cologne called “Sex Panther” that has bits of a panther in it, you’re bound to find yourself hysterically laughing. Rudd isn’t the star of Anchorman but his Brian Fantana is a hilarious take on the news anchors of the past and makes you want to laugh out loud while still thinking about what it must have been like to watch the news in the 70s.

The Anchorman movies do include a battle between all the anchors in the surrounding area with weapons, and Brick may have killed a man, but they’re still hilariously fun and movies that are easily quotable even now.

I Love You Man

i love you man
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Sometimes, you just need a friend. Peter (Paul Rudd) went from one relationship to another and never really had any friends to hang out with. But when he realizes, close to his wedding that he doesn’t have a best man, he starts to hang out with Sydney (Jason Segel) and the two form a weird friendship that includes Lou Ferrigno (The Incredible Hulk)?

Released in 2009, I Love You Man is very much a product of its time but also is one of those comedies we’ve come to know and expect from Rudd and Segel, who also worked together in Forgetting Sarah Marshall and The 40 Year-Old Virgin. They’re dynamic, hilarious, and explore the strange world of making new friends as adults, and what that means for two men who don’t really have friends. Plus, having Segel and Rudd in anything makes it that much better and it just works in I Love You Man.


ant man paul rudd
Image Credit: Marvel Studios.

What’s better than regular Paul Rudd in a movie? Superpowered Paul Rudd. When Rudd joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Scott Lang (aka Ant-Man) many had questions. Mainly about how they were going to make Ant-Man cool. It helped to have someone as fascinating and wonderful as Rudd leading the charge.

His Scott Lang is smart, funny, and a man just trying to be a good dad to his daughter Cassie. If it wasn’t for Scott Lang, who knows where the world would be? Ant-Man is a great look into the charisma that Rudd has. He manages to make a character that no one really loved before into someone so cool that kids can't stop talking about Ant-Man now. Scott Lang is so fused with Rudd now, it's strange to think about Ant-Man as a character without picturing Paul Rudd, and that’s part of his charm and power.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

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Image Credit: Summit Entertainment.

Mr. Anderson is an important part of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, as the teacher who gives Charlie (Logan Lerman) an ear. Paul Rudd brings him to life so beautifully that it gives new meaning to the character. Based on the novel by Stephen Chbosky, the movie is a look at finding yourself while overcoming your past in a beautiful and poignant way.

Starring Lerman, Emma Watson, Ezra Miller, Rudd, and more, the movie (adapted and directed by Chbosky as well) is a love letter to growing up and exploring who we all are. The movie is a great adaptation of the book and gives us answers to questions – like what song was playing on the radio that night they drove through the tunnel. It's also just a beautiful nod to understanding who we all are. Sometimes, we need a Sam or a Patrick or even a Mr. Anderson.

Wet Hot American Summer

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Image Credit: USA Films.

We all have our first and favorite Paul Rudd movies. But have you heard of Wet Hot American Summer? A movie that is making fun of the “camp” 80s movie, Wet Hot American Summer brought us Paul Rudd as Andy, the camp “cool boy,” who dated Katie, while Coop wanted to be her boyfriend.

Will I ever get over Amy Poehler as Susie giving Andy a speech in the TV show and Paul Rudd just standing in front of a door silhouetted by the sun? No, I will not. But that's thanks to the absolutely wild and hilarious performance that Rudd gives. Andy wants to make out with everyone. Even though he’s dating Katie, he has a life to live and he’s our resident bad boy, so we love him in spite of it.

They Came Together

they came together
Image Credit: Lionsgate.

Joel and Molly are in their own rom-com, making fun of rom-coms, and it is glorious. Starring Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler, They Came Together is poking fun at the genre of romantic comedies while also paying homage to them. It is easy to make a mockery of something but in this film they're doing it from a place of love. They Came Together marries Rudd's charming ability on-screen with Amy Poehler’s wit and is a hilarious look at what we see as “love” in our movies.

Directed by David Wain, it is a fun and exciting commentary, just like Wet Hot American Summer before it – that he also directed with Rudd and Pohler. Together, they manage to make us think, saying their piece on the genre they’re mocking while also making us fall in love with their characters.

This Is the End

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Image Credit: Columbia Pictures.

In a star-studded movie where the majority of the world dies, you wouldn’t think someone like Paul Rudd would stand out and yet he runs into a scene with a giant bottle of champagne and then Rihanna dies and everyone screaming “No Rihanna” and “No Paul!”

Written by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, the movie throws us into the heart of Hollywood at a party where a bunch of celebrities, played by said celebrities, lie to each other about how they feel about one another. It all comes to a head though when the world ends and, in order to ascend to Heaven, they have to do the right thing in some form or another.

It’s hilarious and weird. Paul Rudd is barely in it but it is worth it to watch him flip out about the end of days coming while holding a bottle of champagne that is as big as he is.


Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Look, Clueless is the movie where almost everyone found their first Paul Rudd crush. In a modern adaptation of the Jane Austen novel Emma, Rudd plays Josh, a man who has been in Cher’s (Alicia Silverstone) life, but who she doesn’t give the time of day. But, it is a rom-com, so that changes. But honestly, the charm of Paul Rudd had so many of us swooning over Josh, when we first watched Clueless.

It helps that Paul Rudd could play Josh again right now and he would have barely aged since 1995, but there is something so endearing about him in the movie that just made everyone take note. Lucky we did, because we all have fallen in love with Paul Rudd time and time again in his movies and have to thank Clueless for giving introducing most of us to him in the first place.


This post was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.

Rachel Leishman is a writer based in New York City.  She specializes in yelling about her favorite properties. A real-life Leslie Knope, she loves her fictional characters and knows probably too much about Harrison Ford's career.