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 group discussion 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 in regards to that later), it’s up to Tim to save the future of Brownstar Insurance by winning the “Two Diamonds” award. He’s cautioned by his boss to keep out of the way of 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 finish 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 every day life as a wife and mother of two. As she tells Tim, “What happens in Cedar Rapids, stays in Cedar Rapids.”
Because this is firstborn and foremost a reputation piece, most of the characters are drawn to the point of caricature. John C. Reilly’s Dean Ziegler is crude and rude, making undesirable remarks each time he opens his mouth- and surely contributing to the film’s R rating. Joan is sassy and flirty, but manages to still seem like a committed wife and mother even as she’s without doubt or question looking to score. And as Tim Lippe bears more than a passing resemblance to Helms’s reputation from The Office, if you’re a fan of that show, you’re in all likelihood going to like this movie. Like Andy, Tim is naïve, inexperienced to the point of ridiculousness, and an all-around-nice guy. Before the conference, he’d never been on a plane, had a drink, or (we assume) been with anybody 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 in regards to this type of movie is looking for intimate 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 each Coen brothers’ movie, for example), Alia Shawkat (Arrested Development), and Kurtwood Smith (That 70s Show and Robocop, amid others).
Though this is billed as a comedy, it’s more likely to invent chuckles than straightout hilarity. And while conductor Miguel Arteta indulges in a few cliches, for the most part the clever, well-written dialog and very likeable (though unrealistic) characters keep you watching, even as the plot veers from improbable to downright zany. There are genuinely amusive moments, but in the end, Cedar Rapids becomes more when it comes to confirming the value of the sweetness and decency of an standard guy and less when it comes to getting the laughs.
The R rating is earned- Ziegler’s remarks are at times astonishingly foul, and there are a heap of 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 agreeably diverting little movie: the run-time is comparatively short (1 hour and 27 minutes), the plot moves quickly, and the actors all give pleasurable performances. If you come to it expecting only to be entertained, you won’t be disappointed. And the film’s extreme message, that now and again the most routine jobs may reveal- or create- heroes, is unquestionably worth taking away.
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Most helpful client reviews
11 of 12 humans found the following review helpful.
more astounding that I could have ever imagined
By H.R. #1
I’ve been an Ed Helms fan for awhile and have wanted to see this for a heap of time. I may say it does not disappoint. What a strong cast too with John C. Reilly and Anne Heche. Along with others that genuinely fetch it all together. I wouldn’t call it a full out whacky foolish movie. It’s got this “indy” feel to it with just a great remainder of comedy and things a heap of may relate to. If you like those severely written mainstream comedies then this may not be for you but for those that like a heap of “indy” in your movie then you can’t go wrong.
16 of 19 people found the following review helpful.
A Clever, Touching Comedy
By Joshua Miller
Cedar Rapids is a sweet, but never sappy, comedy from conductor Miguel Arteta, who specializes in little films, normally comedies, which are closely anti-Hollywood in the way they grant humor to come naturally from well-developed characters rather than contrived jokes. Like his former efforts, The Good Girl and the underrated 2009 film Youth in Revolt, Arteta casts well-known actors versus type and allows them to develop their characters while showing off antecedently unexplored sides of their acting range. Even with actors that are well-known to mainstream audiences, Cedar Rapids flew beneath the radar, quietly slipping in and out of theatres in early 2011 while mediocrity continued it is sovereignty at the box office.
Ed Helms plays Tim Lippe, an insurance agent for Brown Star Insurance in Brown Valley, Wisconsin. Tim is a simple and naïve, but good-hearted man, wholly out of touch with the modern world. He is “pre-engaged” to his seventh-grade teacher Macy Vanderhei (Sigourney Weaver) and is unmindful to the world outside of Brown Valley. After a co-worker dies beneath mysterious circumstances, Tim’s boss, Bill Krogstad (Stephen Root), sends him to Cedar Rapids, Iowa to represent the agency and assert the esteemed Two Diamonds Award. Upon his arrival, Tim befriends fellow insurance agents Ronald Wilkes (Isiah Whitlock Jr.) and the hard-partying Dean Ziegler (John C. Reilly), while finding himself smitten with Joan (Anne Heche). Yielding both hilarious and heartfelt results, Tim is introduced to situations he never imagined he’d find in Brown Valley, Wisconsin.
Other intimate faces include Kurtwood Smith (as the ultra-religious president of the convention) and Rob Corddry (in a short, but amusive cameo). Probably the most light-hearted film Arteta has directed, a heap of will still label it a “dark comedy” due to it is willingness to disregard political correctness and construct characters truthfully. I’ve many times thought of Arteta as “Alexander Payne-lite” as his distinct, off-beat style seems cut from the same stylistic cloth as the films of Alexander Payne. This matching was never more apparent to me while watching Cedar Rapids and I was astonished to learn, when the credits rolled, that Payne and his general writing partner, Jim Taylor, are genuinely two of the film’s producers. Arteta’s direction and style lend a lot to the quality of the film, but that’s not to diminish the influence of Phil Johnston’s script, which made the 2009 Hollywood Blacklist of the best unproduced screenplays. The script is a marvel in the way it features strong, funny, and deeply humane characters with only a so-so story to push them forward. There’s not one thing specially bad in regards to the script, it’s just a reasonably straight-forward story that reaches a somewhat general conclusion. This little criticism aside, it’s still more touching and clever than any comedy I’ve seen this year.
One must give credit to the terrific cast for often times elevating the quality of the material. Helms doesn’t get the probability to exaggerate his range very much with Tim, but he does offer another side of the introverted, passive, and awkward reputation he’s made his name playing before. Whitlock Jr. almost steals the show with his performance as Ronald, perhaps being the only actor (or person even) who may elicit a laugh from saying “The HBO series `The Wire.’” Heche does a nice turn with her role, as does Weaver, who brings more class and humor to her little role than most actresses would have. There is a lot of talent in front of the camera, but Reilly’s performance alone is sufficient for me to commend the film. Loud, rude and hilariously funny, Reilly brings sufficient comedic energy, heart, and colorful use of the English language to make a distinguished film.
Cedar Rapids is an intelligent, low-key film that quietly sneaks up on you and charms with an equivalent amount of heart and wit. It’s much more satisfying and genuinely funny than a huge percentage of Hollywood comedies being pushed into local cinemas each week and it boasts a terrific cast doing a good deal of fantastic, dynamic work. It fits more heart and humor into it is 87-minute running time than most huge comedies do with more than twice that.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful.
hilarious and warm hearted
It’s offbeat and may not be for every one but this is a well written movie with a outstanding cast. I laughed all the way through and likewise thought it had a warmth that could have been missing from a comedy like this.
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