The best Paul Rudd movies, ranked

paul rudd
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As one of the most ageless actors in Hollywood, Paul Rudd has had a long career. He’s been a superhero, a comedy icon, a convincing romantic lead, and he’s proven that in addition to being insanely charming, he’s also a talented actor.

Because he’s had such a long and varied career, nailing down the most iconic parts he’s played can be a bit tricky. Comedy was definitely where he made his name and he still works in the genre regularly. More recently, though, Rudd has gotten more into dramatic work and proven that he’s remarkably good at that as well. He’s a jack of all trades and we’re lucky to have him.

Here are the top 10 best films Rudd has appeared in ⏤ so far.

10. Wet Hot American Summer

One of Rudd’s early pure comedic roles, Wet Hot American Summer is remarkable in part because it features such an all-star lineup of future comedy stars. Rudd plays Andy in the film, a parody of the “cool guy boyfriend” trope from so many teen comedies of the period. What makes the movie work, though, is the utter commitment Rudd and the rest of the cast give to the material. Wet Hot American Summer is one of the most absurd, hilarious movies ever made, and it launched a generation of great comedy talent.

9. Avengers: Endgame

Perhaps the most surprising thing about Avengers: Endgame is that, after being completely sidelined for Infinity War, Ant-Man was absolutely crucial to the plot. He’s the one who suggests that time travel may be a possibility, and while he’s definitely a supporting figure in the movie, he’s a welcome addition to the core Avengers that make up the film’s heart. Rudd is one of the movie’s only newer elements and he does exactly what is asked of him, including proving to be surprisingly emotional when he returns to a point five years after Thanos’ Snap (and also being wickedly helpful in battle).

8. The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Perhaps Rudd’s best purely dramatic turn is as a charismatic English teacher in The Perks of Being a Wallflower. He only gets a few scenes in the movie, but he spins each of them into something truly meaningful. The relationship between an introverted student and a brilliant teacher is not exactly a new dynamic, but The Perks of Being a Wallflower injects enough specificity that it feels fresh. The movie could have been totally cliché, but because of performances like Rudd’s, it feels deeply humane instead.

7. I Love You, Man

A bromance in its purest form, I Love You, Man is about why meaningful friendships are an important piece in life’s grand puzzle. Rudd stars as a man preparing to get married who realizes that he has no male friends and goes in desperate search of one. The movie is funny, but what’s most striking is the genuine bond that forms between Rudd’s character and Jason Segel’s as they struggle to find a way to make their friendship work. It’s a two-hander, and it’s a great showcase for both Segel and Rudd.

6. This is 40

This is 40 is not the most beloved film Judd Apatow has ever made, but it’s also a pretty startling portrait of what it’s like to enter middle age and wonder how you got there. Rudd stars as Pete, the same character he played in 2007’s Knocked Up. In the film, he’s struggling with being the sole man in a house of three women, including his two daughters, and more generally with the struggles of married life. This is 40 is one of Apatow’s most biographical movies, and while it isn’t perfect, Rudd is great as a genuinely beleaguered father trying his best.

5. Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy

Rudd was essentially an outstanding supporting player in a decade’s worth of comedies, but his best supporting work was in Anchorman, where he plays notorious sex animal Brian Fantana. It would be incorrect to suggest that Rudd firmly establishes a character here, but the improv he manages to do with his three co-stars makes for some of the best jokes in the history of comedy. Rudd is one part of an alchemical machine dedicated to punchlines, and that machine is incredibly good at delivering laughs.

4. Prince Avalanche

An example of Rudd working at the smallest possible scale, Prince Avalanche follows two road workers who spend a summer in 1988 working on a quiet stretch of rural road. The film features very few characters and is essentially about the bond that eventually forms between this odd pairing. Rudd is totally toned down here as a pretty regular guy, and his work in the film is a great proof point for how versatile he is as a performer. Rudd doesn’t play muted characters that often, but he certainly knows how to bring them to life.

3. Wanderlust

Perhaps the most underrated comedy of Rudd’s career, Wanderlust is pure joy. He stars alongside Jennifer Aniston, and the two play a married couple who decide to give life off the grid a try and essentially join a cult. Plenty of strange misadventures ensue from there, including a turn from Justin Thoreau that proves the man is one of the America’s most underrated actors. Rudd gets to be the silliest version of himself here, and the movie works because it chooses to go for broke, wringing all the laughs it can out of every moment.

2. Ant-Man and the Wasp

Marvel has been generally incredible at casting its projects well, and that has never been more true than in the Ant-Man films. Rudd is the ideal Ant-Man ⏤ he has all the appeal of Chris Evans, but he’s goofy, too. Ant-Man and the Wasp gets the edge over the first film because it’s even more committed to the bit. Ant-Man toes the line between a comedy and a heist film, but its sequel is a straight-up comedy, and Rudd gets to show off what he’s made of, including in one stand-out sequence where he embodies the spirit of Michelle Pfeiffer.

1. Clueless

Clueless was, essentially, the first time anyone had seen Paul Rudd, and he definitely made an impact. Playing a supportive older stepbrother who eventually develops romantic feelings for the main character, Rudd couldn’t be more charming in the role. We didn’t know it at the time, but Clueless encompassed so much of what would make Rudd an enduring figure. His Josh is kind, funny, and gentle, and handsome without ever feeling too threatening. He’s an ideal package, and it’s no wonder why Alicia Silverstone’s Cher ultimately falls for him.