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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."
I love this movie, really good dry humor. Don't listen to the whiners. Favorite line, "I apologize for my role in the malfeasance in the pool last night.". the movie is filled with ridiculous situations, a insurance salesman conference in a conference center covered with cheap wooden wall paneling. The star wears nerdy looking turtleneck brown sweaters. Some of the funniest movie lines I've heard "..oh I see your eatin' the canned tuna from the bottom shelf.". All the insurance salesmen (and women) are waaay to excited to be at the "ASMI" conference, it is obviously the highlight of their life. Dirty sexcrets everywhere underneath the blanket of these godly insurance salespeople. I can't think of a comedy like it, it builds on you.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Insurance agents are generally NOT particularly looked-upon with great
"favor" by very many people (& for good reason). This movie attempts to
put the lives of some such agents in a different, quasi-"QUIRKY"
Tim Lippe (ED HELMS from "THE OFFICE" on TV) is an
easy-going 34-year-old agent living & working in Brown Valley, WI. He's
not especially "cutting-edge" when it comes to life experiences, but,
he LOVES his simple existence there, in part because he's shacking-up &
"pre-engaged" with his ex-7th-grade teacher, Macy (or Millie) Vanderhei
His agency is proud to have won "Silver Diamond"
awards from an insurance group promoting "Christian" ideals. But,
things become very disturbed when the head of the agency is shown to
have behaved in a "shocking" manner
Because of that situation,
innocent Ed is sent to represent the agency at the NEW convention the
group is holding in Cedar Rapids, IA
Ed is impressed with the
"modern" & "fancy" trappings he encounters at the hotel where the
Convention is to be held. He meets "friendly" girl Bree (ALIA SHAWKAT)
outside the hotel, & doesn't realize what her "profession" is in the
world of "greeting" strangers
She affectionately calls him
"Butterscotch" (for reasons that will become obvious)
He rooms with
a Black American agent named Ronald Wilkes (ISIAH WHITLOCK, JR. from
"THE WIRE" on TV), who's outgoing & a "veteran" in attending such
Conventions. To his shock & upset, Ed is also given another roomie
named Dean Ziegler (JOHN C. REILLY)-- who his agency owner has "warned"
him is a "POACHER" of clients who should be "avoided" at all costs
John is an outgoing, unrefined, coarse loudmouth, who constantly
delights in spouting RAUNCHY comments. Isiah is a little bothered by
John, but he's warmly greeted by another veteran Conventioneer, Joan
Ostrowski-Fox (ANNE HECHE), a worldly, outgoing married woman who seems
to "know" everyone & who ENJOYS John's crudeness
Ed is almost
"overwhelmed" when meeting the President of the group holding the
Convention, Orin Helgesson (KIRKWOOD SMITH from TV's "THAT 70's SHOW")
Not unexpectedly, "straight-arrow" sherry-swilling Ed is often "taken
ABACK" at the antics of John & some of the others-- but,
little-by-little, he keeps being "drawn-in" to more & more "shocking"
WHO is really "behind" the reported "Petition" to RESCIND
the "Silver Diamond" awards so important to Ed's agency?... Will Ed
"give-in" to the "SEDUCTIVE" tendencies of Anne?... Will John prove to
be the UNTRUSTWORTHY person Ed was warned he is?...
Will Ed "LOOSEN-UP" per the efforts of Alia & John & others?-- and, if so, will that lead to any risky "CONSEQUENCES"?... Will Ed succeed at his attempt to win ANOTHER "Silver Diamond", & what methods would he use to try to ACHIEVE that?... What will "COME" of naïve Ed's being led into more "worldly" exploits at the Convention?...
The cast does a FINE job at their roles, & that helps lead to a lot of FUNNY situations and enjoyment "beyond" the usual "scope" of such a "light" comedy We don't often meet people of a lot of the "extremes" shown by the characters-- but, they're "BELIEVABLE" in the context set up So, since the plot "WORKS" & it's frivolous FUN, I'm giving it 7.25 out of 10 stars
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Ed Helms (The Office, Hangover) -- your star vehicle has come in. No doubt some may feel he is channeling Ben Stiller but Helms' Tim Lippe is very much his own creation here the very personification of "white bread" forced to live in a world of confidently aggressive women, gay weddings, a hooker with a heart and ... you'll find out. Kudos to Phil Johnston's screenplay and the perfectly cast supporting players: Sigourney Weaver as Tim's motherly cougar, John C. Reilly as the polar-opposite cohort who forms the nucleus of the comedy, Isiah Whitlock Jr.'s dead on adoption of Family Guy's Cleveland that sets up a ROFL moment in the climax, Anne Heche's melding of Donna Reed and Shirley MacLaine of this rabid "rat pack" cast and industry go-to-actor Kurtwood Smith as "borin' Orin", the revered "Mr. President" and judge of the prized 2-Diamond Award, the insurance industry's most hallowed trophy. This is the very definition of an ensemble gem, Helms the straight-man core to the spokes in the wheel a wheel that begins to turn slowly, setting the stage and tone before all Midwest, cliché shenanigans breaks loose and it careens into hysterical, bathroom slapstick and pies in the face. A little bit "40 Year Old Virgin," a little bit "Groundhog Day" and whole lot of love.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Miguel Arteda's comedies get less dark and more conventional as his
career progresses. This one, "Cedar Rapids", stars Ed Helms as Tim
Lippe, a naive and idealistic small town insurance agent who "goes to a
big city seminar" and "learns that everyone has corrupt values", "no
integrity" and "readily sells their souls in the interest of profits,
pleasure and business".
It's a funny film, Frank Capra with swearing, but the plot's cliché and Arteda sells out by having Lippe return to his small town and start a "good business", the implication being that "ethical capitalism" is somehow possible (the film turns systemic problems into an issue of personal morality, and misses the point of its own frequent allusions to the "The Wire"). Still, actors John C. Reilly and Sigourney Weaver are fun and the film does well to satirise mid-western conservatives.
7.9/10 Worth one viewing.
With all of the Hollywood movies either being a superhero movie, sequels, or remake/fairytale ripoffs it is finally good to see a new original script. This movie is hilarious. Great characters and cast chemistry. Ed Helms steps onto the big screen from the Office and does not miss a beat. I see him getting bigger in the coming years. John C. Reilly however absolutely steals the show playing the scumbag salesman with a good heart. Movie is a little dark at times and was somewhat disappointed in the ending but overall a solid original comedy with great acting. It is good to watch a comedy that does not feature the Apatow dick and fart jokes that last for 2 and half hours or a Will Ferrell movie that is mindless humor.
Once you unearth Cedar Rapids from a mountain of average 2011 comedies,
you'll see that it's quirky set of characters who work well together
and truly warm hearted-satirical approach to the insurance world works
as one of the best comedies in years.
Additionally, John C. Really once again shows us how funny he is in everything he has ever touched. I would put Cedar Rapids above every single mediocre 2011 comedy, including Bridesmaids, Horrible Bosses, Paul and Hangover 2. Have I reached ten lines of text yet? Come on IMDb, most people don't enjoy reading a novel when it comes to reviews.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I got caught up reading one of those end-of-year retrospectives the
other day, and I ran across a column about the ten movies you probably
should have seen in 2011 but didn't. Cedar Rapids was listed as one of
them, and while I didn't know much about the film I had shied away from
it largely because it looked like a typical fish-out-of-water comedy,
and I'm leery of most comedy movies these days. But, obviously, I bit
the bullet and took a chance.
Cedar Rapids follows one Tim Lippe (Ed Helms), a stereotypical man-child so common in American comedies these days. Tim is of the kindly boy mold; he's in awe of superstar rep Roger (Thomas Lennon), and is suddenly picked to go to an insurance award convention upon Roger's untimely death. Tim has never left his tiny hometown, and to him even Cedar Rapids is "the big city." As expected, Tim displays the usual naiveté once away from home, not recognizing a hooker who loiters around the hotel as a lady of the night and so on; you've seen it before, small town = rube. Tim is thrown together in a room with two other insurance men, Ronald Wilkes (Isiah Whitlock), who, like Tim, is nerdy, but is far more successful at his job, and Dean Ziegler (John C. Reilly), who is basically everyone's drunken uncle, with his double entendres, smut talk, and wild behavior ill-suited to someone pushing fifty. Rounding out the little group is Joan (Ann Heche), who treats the yearly awards meeting as her version of Las Vegas, where whatever she does never leaves the city. All pretty much by the book for this sort of thing.
However, the performances are all so well done that the movie manages to rise above its middling material and engage the viewer. While Helms' shtick as Lippe is nothing new, and no real stretch for him, the other three leads are all really sharp. Whitlock manages to make the slightly stuffy Wilkes incredibly likable, and Heche, while delivering pretty much the same performance as Vera Farmiga in Up in the Air, nonetheless is excellent as Joan, possibly the only character in the film who actually achieves three dimensions. Reilly is, naturally, spot-on; this kind of role is not a challenge for him, but he makes the character funnier as the movie progresses, turning in a strong performance (and getting the best line of the film and of the year, one that made me laugh so hard I had to stop the disc for several minutes to recover). Sigourney Weaver has a small role as Tim's girlfriend, but she's very sharp, just perfect.
The movie gets better as it proceeds, as the leads are allowed more free reign to try and overcome the somewhat hackneyed set-up. Cedar Rapids succeeds despite its shortcomings, and ends much better than it begins, which is certainly better than the other way round. It's certainly worth a look for an evening's diversion.
Cedar Rapids is a small-town American comedy that is quite funny and
sweet. Based on the actors resume, I expected something a little more
raucous, but I'm okay with only a few off-color jokes. The plot
revolves around selling insurance, so the film may take awhile to get
used to. Some people may find the film boring, but I found it quite
intriguing. The film is about people and trying to find a way in life
and in that department, this film succeeds.
Miguel Arteta's film is about an insurance salesman named Tim Lippe who is going nowhere and is in the midst of being "pre-engaged" with his 7th-grade teacher. But due to an unfortunate accident, Tim is sent to an insurance convention which will change his life forever as he meets the suspicious Dean and the seductive Joan.
The acting is actually pretty good. Ed Helms is decent as the man who has not experienced much in the way of life. John C. Reilly put on a show as the crazy, party-goer Dean. Anne Heche is good as Joan. Isaiah Whitlock Jr. is also good as the other friend of the group, Ronald.
Overall, Cedar Rapids is a small film but I enjoyed it because of the kind of American film it is. It's really short and often pretty funny. There are no blockbuster goodness here, but for this kind of film it would be unacceptable. It is a movie about bonding as well as the opening of the eyes of a man so he can see the world for the first time. I rate this film 8/10.
Deciding to watch this was totally based on the IMDb reviews so I
wasn't sure what to expect. Happily after watching this twice in a few
days I can say it really hit the spot.
Not being a huge fan of any of the leads and not having seen anything of Ed Helms prior I was not expecting anything brilliant here, but I really enjoyed this both times watching. I would regard this as a feel good comedy rather than a straight out comedy. Some of the humour would not be appreciated by everyone and will probably be regarded as quite silly, but I think it suited the movie.
John C. Reilly's movies can be a bit hit and miss, as his humour tends toward toilet humour in many cases and if you are not into that it can be a bit of a turn off. While some of the humour is a bit lowbrow, if you can get over that you will enjoy this movie.
I gave it a 7 out of 10 and will be watching it again.
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