Cedar Rapids tells the story of a weekend in the life of Tim Lippe (Ed Helms), a small-town insurance salesman, who finds himself attending a conference in the “big city” of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. When the star salesman of his company winds up dead as a result of an accidental asphyxiation (more about that later), it’s up to Tim to save the future of Brownstar Insurance by winning the “Two Diamonds” award. He’s warned by his boss to avoid the terrible influence of Dean Ziegler (John C. Reilly) at all costs, and so naturally, they wind up sharing a room.
Kate Passis Reviews Cedar Rapids
Actors: Ed Helms, John C. Reilly, Anne Heche Director: Miguel Arteta Release Date: June 21, 2011 MPAA Rating: R Cedar Rapids tells the story of a weekend in the life of Tim Lippe (Ed Helms), a small-town insurance salesman, who finds himself attending a conference in the ³big city´ of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. When the star salesman of his company winds up dead as a result of an accidental asphyxiation (more about that later), it¶s up to Tim to save the future of Brownstar Insurance by winning the ³Two Diamonds´ award. He¶s warned by his boss to avoid the terrible influence of Dean Ziegler (John C. Reilly) at all costs, and so naturally, they wind up sharing a room. The third roommate is Ronald Wilkes (Isiah Whitlock Jr.), who plays the straight man to Ziegler¶s boorish drunk. And no setup would be complete without a lady in the mix- in this case, Joan Ostrowski-Fox (Anne Heche), who uses these insurance conferences as an escape from the tedium of her daily life as a wife and mother of two. As she tells Tim, ³What happens in Cedar Rapids, stays in Cedar Rapids.´ Because this is first and foremost a character piece, most of the characters are drawn to the point of caricature. John C. Reilly¶s Dean Ziegler is crude and rude, making inappropriate comments every time he opens his mouth- and certainly contributing to the film¶s R rating. Joan is sassy and flirty, but manages to still seem like a devoted wife and mother even as she¶s clearly looking to score. And as Tim Lippe bears more than a passing resemblance to Helms¶s character from The Office, if you¶re a fan of that show, you¶re probably going to like this movie. Like Andy, Tim is naïve, inexperienced to the point of ridiculousness, and an allaround-nice guy. Before the conference, he¶d never been on a plane, had a drink, or (we assume) been with anyone other than his current and recent girlfriend- who also happens to be his former seventh grade teacher (played by Sigourney Weaver). By the end of the movie, he¶s dealt with infidelity, disillusionment, and, as in any true coming-of-age-story, smoking crack. One of the fun things about this type of movie is looking for familiar faces. As Ronald Wilkes, Isiah Whitlock Jr. throws out a few blatant references to HBO¶s The Wire (where he played Senator Clay Davis). Allegedly, those were written in before casting, which actually makes them more amusing. Also featured are Stephen Root (Newsradio and a bajillion other things-
such as what seems like every Coen brothers¶ movie, for example), Alia Shawkat (Arrested Development), and Kurtwood Smith (That 70s Show and Robocop, among others). Though this is billed as a comedy, it¶s more likely to produce chuckles than outright hilarity. And while director Miguel Arteta indulges in a few cliches, for the most part the clever, wellwritten dialogue and very likeable (though unrealistic) characters keep you watching, even as the plot veers from unlikely to downright zany. There are genuinely funny moments, but in the end, Cedar Rapids becomes more about confirming the value of the sweetness and decency of an ordinary guy and less about getting the laughs. The R rating is earnedZiegler¶s comments are at times astonishingly foul, and there are many other sexual references (the accidental death is due to auto-erotic asphyxiation, for example), crude humor in general, and situational drug use. Overall, Cedar Rapids is an entertaining little movie: the run-time is relatively short (1 hour and 27 minutes), the plot moves quickly, and the actors all give enjoyable performances. If you come to it expecting only to be entertained, you won¶t be disappointed. And the film¶s ultimate message, that sometimes the most mundane jobs can reveal- or create- heroes, is definitely worth taking away.
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