Movie ReviewsRating: 4 of 5 yaps

Cedar Rapids

In “Cedar Rapids,” we meet mild-mannered small-town insurance salesman Tim Lippe (Ed Helms, “The Hangover”), an earnest, naive man who is about to learn the ways of the big city. Sure he’s sleeping with his old junior-high teacher (Sigourney Weaver), but is not prepared for life outside of Brown Valley, Wisconsin.

Yes, he’s going to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, for an annual convention of insurance salesmen that culminates in one of them getting the prestigious “Two Diamonds” award — presented to the salesman who best exemplifies integrity and godliness in his profession.

Tim’s firm has received the award three years running, and after the suspicious “accidental” death of the office’s best salesman (he was found in a hotel room with his pants down and a belt around his neck), Tim’s boss (Stephen Root) taps him to take his late colleague’s place at the big boys’ table. Win the award, save the office. Don’t, and, well, you’re probably fired.

And a tall table it is indeed, as Tim meets — gasp! — a black man, Ronald Wilkes (Isiah Whitlock Jr.), and the man he was warned to stay away from — the bombastic douchebag (and rumored client poacher) Dean Ziegler (John C. Reilly). Of course, circumstances bring them together and things get a little wacky.

Tim also meets a prostitute named Bree (Alia Shawkat) and brazen party girl Joan Ostrowski-Fox (Anne Heche) and soon finds himself spiraling downward into recesses of excess and debauchery he’s never even imagined.

Helms dances around the line between overplaying Tim’s sheltered social ineptitude and remaining a believable, relatable character, as do Reilly and Whitlock. They are playing caricatures, but there’s never a moment that descends into ridiculousness.

Reilly’s shenanigans are mostly frat boy-gone-wild type stuff, so they are funny but not outside the realm of possibility in the real world, which adds a layer of reality to the movie. His highlights include him asking a colleague talking to a woman if he’s “getting a little honey on his stinger” and, as he’s hugging Ronald, asking Tim, “What’s the matter, you’ve never seen a chocolate/vanilla love sandwich before?”

But director Miguel Arteta maintains a precarious comedic balancing act, keeping things from going over the top without holding back the laughs. In a film like this, that’s a plus, as too much ridiculousness becomes the enemy for comedies of this ilk.

Things lag just a bit when the plot comes back into play, and a development revolving around the award late in the movie distracts from the laughs, albeit just a touch.

One of my colleagues joked that this was the best film of the year thus far. “Cedar Rapids” perhaps isn’t a great film by any means and won’t likely be a blip on my Top 10 list by the end of the year, but I really can’t argue with that assessment. It’s a solid comedy that at times teeters on the brink of brilliance but is  always at least workmanlike and funny.

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14 Responses to “Cedar Rapids”

  1. Mike B says:

    Lots of great one-liners in this one, mostly courtesy of John C. Reilly. Ed Helms has the everyman role locked down and the three unique supporting women in the story influence him in different ways.

  2. Lauren Felts says:

    I saw this movie for a screening when it first came out, and I can’t stop thinking about how I want to see it again. It was hilarious!! John C. Reilly and Ed Helms make a great team for sure.

  3. Nik Browning says:

    I liken this to a "Little Miss Sunshine" much more than the "Hangover" that the trailer makes it out to be. All of the characters are very likable and never stray too far from how they’re introduced. Everyone learns a little something about the world and themselves and it’s all really simply presented with even a simple ending.

    So, having made it sound compleely boring, let me tell you that it’s actually really funny. Glad to see Ed Helms in a starring role, and he plays his character very well for how his character was written. Way too nice and naive and childish. The plot focuses on him and the changes he goes through as his life outlook is tarnished by the big bad corporate bosses. Helms’ is good, but probably the worst part of the movie.

    John C. Reilly brings the big laughs of an obnoxious blowhard like Rob Courdry in "Hot Tub Time Machine" or the mechanic in "Bachelor Party". It’s crude and wasted and his comedic timing is impeccable. But we get to see some depth of his character in ways that aren’t as simple as Helms’.

    That’s true also of Anne Heche, who admittedly I’m a little bit in love with. At times in this movie she’s poised, completely fun, sexy and matronly all at once. And the whore Brie is fun too. Stupid, but knows how to get shit done.

  4. Paul DeFonce says:

    Laughed my butt off at this movie. Very funny.

  5. Cameron says:

    We looooved this movie, Ed Helms is the best!!!

  6. Kim DeFonce says:

    This movie was very so funny!! I loved John C. Reilly in it, he made the movie.

  7. Saw this movie and never laughed so much. Definitely not for the young. Who new that insurance agents were so much fun!

  8. Kristin Phillips says:

    This review definitely makes me want to see this movie. I had screening passes, but unfortunately, was not able to attend. I have heard only good things about this movie.

  9. Andy says:

    I enjoyed this film. I thought it was pretty hilarious, and never would have thought an insurance convention would be such an entertaining setting for a film.

  10. Chukie says:

    This move was awesome. I love adult humor. If you are the sensitive type, then this movie isn’t for you.

  11. Tracy Huser says:

    Was a funny adult comedy movie. I agree with Becky, stay for the credits and the end was funny.

  12. Alexis says:

    So "Aaaawwwwseome"… great cast and lots of laughs! :)

  13. This film was funny in an Animal House sort of way. A little coarse humor, and funny in the way that coming from a small town in Wisconsin to a "Big" city in Iowa! The characters played their parts well. Loved the ending. But be sure to stay for the credits. The pictures at the end make the whole movie!!!!

  14. Lindsay Drews says:

    YAY! I’m so happy to hear this. I love Ed Helms, and was really wanting this to be a good movie. I was just waiting to hear what people thought! I’m going to see it. :)