Cedar Rapids Directed by: Miguel Arteta Cast: Ed Helms, John C. Reilly, Anne Heche Running Time: 1 hr 27 mins Rating: R Release Date: February 18, 2011
PLOT: Tim Lippe (Helms) has no idea what he's in for when he's sent to Cedar Rapids, Iowa to represent his company at an annual insurance convention. He soon finds himself under the "guidance" of three convention veterans.
WHO'S IT FOR? Love Helms? Then after that, you've got to be a fan of non-sequitur comedy about the little pleasure of being at an insurance conference.
EXPECTATIONS: Buzz from other critics/friends wasn't strong, but I grew up 1.5 hours away so I figured I could enjoy this film for additional reasons.
ACTORS: Ed Helms as Tim Lippe: Tim Lippe is a man child. Somehow he's been stunted. Tim has never been on an airplane, he wears a money belt to travel to another state, and a swear word for him is bullroy. The issue with this is that he is kind of, sort of tested by some really odd moments, and I have no idea what he learned. I root for Helms. I've met him in person, and love him in "The Office," there just wasn't a path for this character. Score: 5
John C. Reilly as Dean Ziegler: He's the leader of the obnoxious party. Dean is insanely crass. Tim was told to stay away from him, and wouldn't you know it, zing -- they're roommates at the hotel. Tim spends most of the film trying to deflect Dean's annoyances, then flips and they're friends. Score: 5
Anne Heche as Joan Ostrowski-Fox: She's actually always good for a strong female character. Joan treats Cedar Rapids like Las Vegas and let's her life behind disappear. She, just like a few other characters, opens up Tim's world in ways that really don't make much sense. This is also the second movie I saw in a row (The Mechanic) where someone seems to be missing eyebrows, though the red hair does work on Heche. Score: 5
Isiah Whitlock Jr. as Ronald Wilkes: It's good to see Whitlock in this role as a straight-laced, proper insurance salesman and overall nice guy. Though, doesn't it seem like we already have that in Tim? It is odd and very meta for Ronald to mention watching "The Wire" on two different occasions. It seems to lessen the moment when he goes gangsta. Score: 6
TALKING: NTS (Not too shabby). That's borrowed from Ronald. There is a line that I hoped would describe Tim perfectly, "I thought you were a kid who was going to go places, then you didn't." There are an incredible amount of filthy lines, mainly coming from Dean. I didn't feel the movie needed to constantly head in R-rated territory. Dean is filthy enough when saying, "she's as moist as a damp sponge." Also, if you're going to be a movie about the world of insurance, you have to know your field. At one point, Tim says he will take 17 clients from his boss. That's not allowed. That's illegal. Score: 5
SIGHTS: The physical gags are a money belt, hugging a naked old man in a locker room, a cocaine party and Dean drunk in a pool doing an R2-D2 impersonation with a trash can. Reilly as a drunk is almost always a good time, but I just need more from all of the other things. Plus, Cedar Rapids (the city) is totally underutilized to the point where this could have taken place anywhere. Score: 4
SOUNDS: Tim does sing a cute little song about insurance set to a Christmas carol classic. "Radar Love" is once again dusted off for a party sequence. The musical score helps a little, but there's no magic here either. Score: 5
What is the point? Is it just to tell a 'fish out of water' story? A chance for Ed Helms to star? To showcase the differences between small town and small city? It just feels like none of this is knocked out of the park.
I know Cedar Rapids. I've been to Cedar Rapids. Cedar Rapids ... you are no Cedar Rapids. How can you have a movie named after this city and NOT talk about the fact that the entire city reeks of oatmeal?
The insurance convention is about scavenger hunts, drinking, talent shows and never feels like a real conference. Believing in God seems to be important as well, but there is not a funny commentary about the Midwest and God. Plus, to top it all off, the amount of $1,500 is tossed around with successful business men like it's a ton of money. Not even in Iowa is that making anyone retire.
There are no real insurance jokes or an inside look at this industry. So again, I ask the question. What's the point?
FINAL SCORE: 4/10