Monday, February 14, 2011

Cedar Rapids (2011)

Starring Ed Helms, John C. Reilly, Anne Heche, Isiah Whitlock Jr., et al
Rated R, 86 minutes

Insurance agent Tim Lippe (Helms) comes from a small town and a small firm that are both stuck in time. Tim's straight-and-narrow as they come, wearing an honest haircut, not quite figuring out prostitutes, and trying to tie down his teacher-turned-piece-of-ass with a promise ring. After the star agent dies in a kinky sex accident, Tim is selected to represent the company at ASMI, the annual convention where one firm takes home the coveted Two Diamond award.

Upon arrival, white bread Tim finds himself bunking with Dean Ziegler (Reilly), his polar opposite, and someone his boss told him to avoid. Tim grows to be life of the party in many comically satisfying ways, and finds out what it really takes to be a Two Diamond winner.

This laugh-out-loud (and delightfully raunchy) comedy had some heart; strange given the fact our eventual heroes include a divorced alcohol abuser and a cheating wife. I don't know if our rooting for them is more a comment on good filmmaking or the state of morality these days, but kudos in any case. John C. Reilly puts forth a great performance, feeling every bit like the boorish class clown he's portraying in the unglamorous world of small-time insurance. You wouldn't expect that to be a role with nuance, but a lot of the little things in this movie sell the character. The upper middle class teems with little Zieglers, and the spirit was well captured.

Awards for perfect capturing and
doing little things go out early and often with this film. I could feel, and even smell the Holiday Inn-like trappings our conventioneers found themselves in. The wood panel-heavy company office was an appropriate time capsule - not overdone. The realism made everything that much funnier.

Anne Heche co-stars as a sexy love interest. Also appearing in significant roles are Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Root, Mike O'Malley and Kurtwood Smith. Smaller roles were populated by other great character actors. MANY nods go to casting.


At 86 minutes, "Cedar Rapids" was a potent comic punch. I wish it weren't so hunky-dory with the plot development at times, but the full laughter I experienced time and again was worth the price of admission - and later, assumedly, the DVD.

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