Man of the Year 2009

The Also-rans

Luke Wilson

Luke Wilson

Steve Carell continued his acclaimed run on The Office but did not experience a theatrical release in 2009. So, Steve’s chances as man of the year are basically a non-starter. But, look out for Steve in a big way in 2010 with two high-profile pairings. Date Night matches Carell with Tina Fey, while Dinner for Schmucks reunites Carell with Anchorman buddy Paul Rudd.

Luke Wilson’s recent troubles securing release dates for his films continued in 2009. Battle for Terra was a poorly received animated film that launched on less than 1000 screens and is the cinematic high point for Wilson this year. Two other indie films were slated to be released but were either MIA or relegated to a few film fests. If Tenure and Middle Men are released in 2010 it could be a comeback year for Wilson.  Wilson did land a visible job as an AT&T Wireless pitchman, a move that was met with mixed reviews.

The Underperformers

Will Ferrell starred in the summer bomb Land of the Lost and had a strange extended cameo in the otherwise mediocre The Good: Live Hard, Sell Hard. Nuff said.

Owen and Woody

Owen and Woody

Owen Wilson started 2009 basking in the glow of Marley & Me’s box office gold. The family-oriented film was a comeback of sorts for Wilson and re-energized his career. Theatrically, Wilson once again was part of the comedic ensemble of the latest Night at the Museum movie. Wilson’s Jedidiah had some of the film’s most memorable moments. His voice work in Wes Anderson’s The Fantastic Mr. Fox was limited to one scene.

Wilson also spent much of 2009 filming James L. Brooks’ latest, along with Reese Witherspoon and Paul Rudd. However, the less said about Wilson’s increasingly bizarre public displays of affection with buddy Woody Harrelson the better.

Jack Black starred in a summer tentpole, Year One, with Michael Cera and some Frat Pack friends like Hank Azaria, Bill Hader, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, David Cross, and Paul Rudd. Problem was that even for those of us who liked Year One it definitely was in the “amusing and silly” category rather than “comedy classic.” 2008’s Frat Pack Man of the Year also starred in the Brutal Legend video game and filmed Gulliver’s Travels with Jason Segel.

The Finalists

Vince Vaughn

Vince Vaughn

Frat Pack friends Todd Phillips and Woody Harrelson had banner years in 2009. Phillips got his mojo back with the huge gross of The Hangover, a film that like Old School relied on a raunchy male ensemble.

Harrelson top-lined a big hit with Zombieland, had an extended cameo in 2012, and is drawing awards for his supporting role in The Messenger. The problem is that the closest Harrelson came to Frat Pack street-cred in 2009 was a costarring role in the indie dramedy Management with Jennifer Aniston, or wrestling with “close friend” Owen Wilson.

Vince Vaughn starred in the ensemble comedy hit Couples Retreat. As per the usual recent formula, Vaughn invited friends like Jon Favreau, Jason Bateman, and Peter Billingsley to help him with the film. While the fall release didn’t appeal to critics, the film had great legs and became Vaughn’s fifth film in six years to cross the $100m mark. While Vaughn did announce he was engaged to be married, he has no films in the can or announced at present.

Ben Stiller had the year’s highest grosser among the Frat Pack stars, with Night at the Museum: Battle for the Smithsonian. Moreover, Stiller again filled the movie with a plethora of comedic talent both old (Owen Wilson, Steve Coogan) and new (Jonah Hill, Bill Hader, Hank Azaria, Amy Adams). While the film didn’t quite have the box office legs of the first, and some of us thought it played too much like a sequel, the film demonstrated that Stiller was by far the decade’s most consistent box office draw.

Seth Rogen

Seth Rogen

On the other hand, Stiller’s oft-delayed The Marc Pease Experience opposite Jason Schwartzman saw a very limited theatrical run before a rushed DVD release. I count myself as one of the few who saw this “film” that is one of the worst of Stiller’s career.  In 2010, Stiller has the indie dramedy Greenberg and a Meet the Parents sequel with Owen Wilson and Robert DeNiro.

Seth Rogen had a strong year in many ways. He was a big part of the success of Monsters vs. Aliens in the spring, voicing “Bob” who was the main comedic relief. He followed that up in Observe and Report, a very dark comedy that bombed at the box office and had some critics scratching their heads. The film from Jody Hill had a number of advocates who appreciated the unflinching dark tone and Rogen’s fearless and often unsympathetic performance.

Rogen also starred in another comedy-drama mix in the summer with Judd Apatow’s Funny People opposite Adam Sandler. Again, critics were mixed and the box office was disappointing but a number of us thought Rogen was great in a film that overall was really good.

And Rogen’s notable weight loss finally paid off as his superhero adaption Green Hornet finally started film for a release in 2010.

The Frat Pack Man of the Year: Paul Rudd

Paul Rudd in I Love You, Man

Paul Rudd in I Love You, Man

Paul Rudd cemented his leading-man status by appearing in virtually every scene in the critical and box office hit I Love You, Man this spring. Rudd really hoisted the movie on his shoulders by being both sympathetic and creepy/awkward at the same time. And while Jason Segel made for an appealing foil this really was Rudd’s movie. The role culminated Rudd’s rise over the past five years from indie star to a recognizable face but not a name, to a well-known “supporting guy’s guy” to finally a leading man with name recognition.

Rudd also appeared briefly in Monsters vs. Aliens and was found time to cameo in the best scene in Year One. Following the success of 2008’s Role Models and I Love You, Man this year, Rudd could arguably be considered a peer of the traditional Frat Pack actors (”just like Jack Black, but better” in terms of popularity). In fact, Rudd spent the rest of 2009 filming movies opposite Owen Wilson (the James L. Brooks film) and Steve Carell (Dinner for Schmucks).

As noted by the chart below, Rudd really has credibility as a full-fledged member of both Team Apatow as well as the Frat Pack itself. While Rudd’s Knocked Up buddy Seth Rogen aliened some audiences, Rudd gave the people what they wanted and more.

So, with strong consensus from Frat Pack Tribute editors and readers, the Frat Pack Man of the Year is the man who “slappa da bass,” Paul Rudd.

Paul Rudd Hugged by Jason Segel

Paul Rudd Hugged by Jason Segel

Criteria
Jack
Black
Steve Carell
Will
Ferrell
Ben
Stiller
Vince
Vaughn
Luke
Wilson
Owen
Wilson
Paul Rudd
“Just like Jack Black but better” in popularity
yes
yes
yes
yes
yes
no
yes

yes

Onscreen pairing with Jack Black no

(did not share scenes on The Office)

Anchorman, Comedian at the Oscars Envy, Tropic Thunder, Pick of Destiny, Heat Vision and Jack no no Heat Vision and Jack Walk Hard, Year One cameos
Onscreen pairing with Steve Carell no

(did not share scenes in Anchorman)

Anchorman, Betwitched Anchorman Anchorman no no Anchorman, The 40 Year-Old Virgin, Dinner for Schmucks
Onscreen pairing with Will Ferrell Anchorman Anchorman, Betwitched Zoolander, Starsky & Hutch Old School, Anchorman, Wedding Crashers Old School, Blades of Glory Wedding Crashers Anchorman
Onscreen pairing with Ben Stiller
Envy, Tropic Thunder, Pick of Destiny
Anchorman
Zoolander, Starsky & Hutch
Dodgeball
The Royal Tennenbaums
Zoolander, Starsky & Hutch, Night at the Museum, et. al.

Night at the Museum

Onscreen pairing with Vince Vaughn no Anchorman Old School, Anchorman, Wedding Crashers Zoolander, Starsky & Hutch, Dodgeball Old School Wedding Crashers The Locusts, Anchorman
Onscreen pairing with Luke Wilson Bongwater Anchorman Old School, Blades of Glory The Royal Tennenbaums Old School Bottle Rocket, The Wendell Baker Story Anchorman
Onscreen Pairing with Owen Wilson
Heat Vision and Jack
no
Wedding Crashers
Zoolander, Starsky & Hutch, Night at the Museum, et. al.
Wedding Crashers
Bottle Rocket, The Wendell Baker Story

James L. Brooks comedy

Onscreen pairing with Reese Witherspoon
no
no
no
no
Four Christmases
Legally Blonde
James L. Brooks comedy

James L. Brooks comedy and Overnight Delivery

Onscreen pairing with Jennifer Aniston
no
no*

(did not share scenes in Bruce Almighty)

no
Along Came Polly
The Break-Up
no
Marley & Me

Object of My Affection and Friends

Year Born
1969
1962
1967
1965
1970
1971
1968

1969

“Bromantic Comedy” roles Pick of Destiny The 40 Year-Old Virgin Old School, Blades of Glory, Talladega Nights Zoolander, Starsky & Hutch, The Cable Guy Old School, Wedding Crashers, Swingers Bottle Rocket, Old School Bottle Rocket, Starsky & Hutch, Wedding Crashers The 40 Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, I Love You, Man
Cameo Appearances
Anchorman, Walk Hard
Bewitched, Knocked Up
Wedding Crashers, Starky & Hutch, Wendell Baker Story
Orange County, Anchorman, Pick of Destiny
Zoolander
Blades of Glory
Meet the Fockers

Night at the Museum, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Year One

Criteria
Jack
Black
Steve Carell
Will
Ferrell
Ben
Stiller
Vince
Vaughn
Luke
Wilson
Owen
Wilson
Paul Rudd

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