Tim Lippe 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, where he soon finds himself under the "guidance" of three convention veterans.
Tim Lippe (Helms) was the guy people always thought would go places but then he just ... didn't. He's been living in über-sleepy Brown Valley, Wisconsin his whole life, still "pre-engaged" to his 7th grade teacher Macy Vanderhei (Weaver), while selling insurance to protect other people's dreams. But now, Tim's stalled life is about to get a kick-start because, for the first time in his 34 years, he's headed to a "major" metropolis - Cedar Rapids, Iowa - where he must try to save his company at a do-or-die insurance convention that, for him, will be entirely unconventional. From the minute he checks into his hotel with his ancient American Tourister and cummerbund money belt, it's clear Tim has no idea how the modern world really works. He is soon smitten with seductive Nebraskan insurance agent Joan Ostrowski-Fox (Heche) and awed by his experienced roommates, the straight-shooting Ronald Wilkes (Whitlock Jr.) and the suspicious Dean Zeigler (Reilly). Disheartened when he comes ... Written by
Fox Searchlight Pictures
The screenplay for this film was featured in the 2009 Blacklist; a list of the "most liked" unmade scripts of the year. See more »
The movie starts off in Brown Valley, Wisconsin. However, at the beginning when they're showing different scenes from the town, we see a directional highway sign in one shot that clearly shows a "diamond" shaped state-highway sign, which are used by the state of Michigan (where the movie is filmed). See more »
One of the reasons I love Brown Valley so much is that when you do business here, chances are good you know the person you're dealing with.
See more »
During the closing credits, the main characters tell (dumb) jokes at the cottage, and a commercial for their new insurance company is shown. See more »
Following the success of THE HANGOVER, Ed Helms has officially risen to
leading man status. Granted it's only an independent film and I'm not
even sure it got any sort of nationwide release, but you've got to
start somewhere. CEDAR RAPIDS is a quirky comedy with a handful of dark
elements and, while it has a fair share of laughs, it's pretty tame.
Helms is insurance salesman Tim Lippe, an awkward man who never
amounted to much. He often fades into the background in the shadow of
superior salesman Roger Lemke, and his only real relationship is the
on-going fling with his former grade school teacher. After an
unfortunate incident means Lemke won't be able to represent Brownstar
Insurance at the upcoming ASMI conference in Cedar Rapids, it's left up
to Tim to try and win the coveted Two Diamonds award for the the third
year in a row. It won't be easy: Tim's never been outside his hometown
of Brown Valley, WI and he's socially incompetent. As if he doesn't
have it rough enough, he finds himself mixed up with the likes of
notorious wild-man and rumored "poacher", Dean Ziegler.
With the exception of a pretty dark final 30 minutes where Helms' Lippe
hits rock bottom, the film is pretty light. If it weren't for a good
amount of vulgar humor (mostly from John C. Reilly's Ziegler), this
film probably would've fallen to a PG-13 rating. A lot of the laughs
come from Lippe's wide-eyed wonder at the real world and Ziegler's
drunken antics. The gags in the film never really amount to more than a
few chuckles, even when Helms loses his mind. It's a fun enough story
with Lippe trying his darnedest to represent Brownstar in an honest
fashion and finding out how even an institution like his beloved ASMI
isn't impervious to the corruption of the world. Unfortunately,
chuckles are about all the film amounts to. For a film billed as a
comedy, there aren't a whole lot of "laugh out loud" moments. It's a
shame too because the pairing of Helms and Reilly is a promising one.
The film's quirkiness takes center stage with corny jokes and nicknames
taking center stage over any real jokes. Amusing, yes. Is it a film
I'll be hyping up to my friends? Probably not.
Helms is a great straight-man. He's already got the look of a
respectable man, so all he needs to do is freak out (at which he
excels) in strange circumstances and he can usually get a laugh (see
any scene of his in THE HANGOVER). Here, he's the ultimate straight-man
and he plays innocent well. Reilly's Ziegler is his polar opposite,
boisterous, often drunk, and at constant odds with ASMI headman Orin
Helgesson (Kurtwood Smith). Reilly's a comedic heavyweight and gets
most of the best laughs in the film and manages to balance a bit of a
empathetic human side to his party animal. Rounding out the main cast
are Anne Heche as feisty Joan Ostrowski-Fox and Isiah Whitlock Jr. as
Ron Wilkes. Heche makes an for a hot red-head and her character treats
every ASMI convention in Cedar Rapids like a trip to Vegas ("What
happens in Cedar Rapids, stays in Cedar Rapids.") and Whitlock's Wilkes
is the voice of reason amongst the group. Some great chemistry amongst
the cast here but the film's just a little too tame, relying on minor
chuckles instead of any real laughs. Or as Ronald Wilkes might put it,
this film is N.T.S. In this case, "not that special."
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