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The indie comedy "Cedar Rapids" goes by pretty rapid with its 89 minute running time, and that is somewhat a good thing but it's mostly not such a bad thing. The film stars Ed Helms as Tim Lippe, a small-town insurance salesman who is sent out by his Brownstone Insurance Company to Cedar Rapids for an annual insurance convention. Bill Krogstad (Stephen Root), the owner of Brownstone Insurance, instructs naïve Ed to brownnose the Insurance Convention President so Brownstone can once again receive a prestigious Insurance Award. Tim meets three convention regulars in: the insurance entrepreneur workaholic Ronald Wilkes who is a devotee to the HBO Show "The Wire", the foxy middle-age insurance rep Joan Ostrowski-Fox who looks forward to the convention on annual basis for a little escapism, and the spirit-fueled (in more ways than one, and more drinks than one) vociferous insurance rep Dean Ziegler who is the Dean of Convention Partying. I will keep my lips sealed on what happens to Lippe so I don't spoil the fun for you, but let's say it is the time for Tim to unwind. Director Miguel Arteta's effort is not close to being a work of art with its semi-muddled style, and Screenwriter Phil Johnston did not phil up the scribe with a mesmeric narrative; but what Arteta & Johnston (sounds like a law firm) were able to pull out in their filmmaking were magnificent supporting characters to the picture. Ed Helms was pretty much taking off the same characterization of his infamous Stu in "The Hangover" franchise with his leading work here as Lippe; so yea, it was adequate but it did not hungover with freshness for too long since we have seen it before. However, it was the two amigos and one amiga of Lippe what sold me on "Cedar Rapids". I was wired in to Isiah Whitlock's performance as Ronald Wilkes; and that voice of Whitlock is one of the best in the business, might even surpass the Freeman. Anne Heche was captivating as Joan Ostrowski-Fox, and I was joanzing for Joan every time she appeared on screen. And definitely the apex of "Cedar Rapids" was the scene-stealing performance of John C. Reilly as Dean Ziegler, one of the funniest comedic performances of 2011; and his R2D2 impression while intoxicated in a pool could just be the funniest moment I have seen in a 2011 movie. I cannot insure you that you will love "Cedar Rapids" because it is for an acquired taste. But for the most part, like a decent comedy, "Cedar Rapids" is there. **** Good
The issue I had with this movie was the main character. It's almost not
believable. Ed Helms plays the overly naive and sheltered main
character, Tim Lippe, who leaves a small town to represent his
insurance company at the annual convention in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. I
love Ed Helms in The Office but this character just seems like an
overly exaggerated Andy Bernard (his Office character) and that doesn't
work. It's not believable. Even though we all may know someone that
grew up a little sheltered, no one is this bad and if they are, it
isn't comical, it's sad. And that's what happened with this character.
It got to the point where it was no longer funny but just sad and,
quite frankly, annoying. You knew he was going to come out of his shell
but it felt like it took forever to get there (sadly it took only 40
minutes - not a good sign if the audience cannot put up with the main
character for that long). One last thing about Ed Helms' character.
Since there are only so many funny jokes you can make about such a
character (unless he's a 40 year-old virgin played by Steve Carell) the
scenes with Helms got boring fast and I impatiently awaited the return
of John C Reily's character.
Speaking of which, John C Reily plays another insurance salesman at the conference, Dean Ziegler, who helps Ed Helms come out of his shell. If it wasn't for this character I may have shut the movie off. He was absolutely hilarious and had me and my friends laughing just about every time he opened his mouth. And although it was probably the perfect amount of John C Reily, I found myself wanting more scenes with him because the rest of the movie was pretty dull.
As for the rest of the main characters, I thought they worked well but the script didn't allow them to shine in any way. I actually think the only reason John C Reily shined was because he improvised everything (could be wrong but considering the jokes without him were pretty lame, I can't imagine that the writing for him was that great either).
Lastly, I won't describe the plot in depth but in summary, it was basic and simply a platform for the characters to take over. That is fine for a comedy but even in this genre you want to be rooting for the main character at the end. Unfortunately, that was not the case in Cedar Rapids.
Overall, I would recommend watching it because Deansy (John C Reily) will have you laughing out loud but don't go in expecting anything spectacular.
Cedar Rapids starts out as though it's an advertisement selling the
American Dream as we are shown the 'perfect' life of the 'perfect' Tim
Lippe, represented by Ed Helms. Lippe is tasked by his boss to fly to
the resort of Cedar Rapids to win the Two Diamond award for his
insurance agents and it's here he will learn more about himself and
life it's self. Though it all sounds uplifting and pleasant deep down
there's some dark, serious segments, which are bogged down by the
cheery atmosphere the film tries to bring across. Varying from the
first interaction Lippe has at Cedar Rapids is a conversation with a
prostitute without him knowing to an unhealthy use of drugs.
The main problem I had with the film was that it wasn't funny enough until the final act at which point it was barely worth it. The humour in this film is more chuckles worth rather than out loud laughter. Despite the slow start however there was a lot to like as by the end of the film I wanted to spend more time with the characters, the main one being Ed Helm's. I felt a connection to his character, I saw myself inside him and that made for some great relation scenes. There was a real sense of accomplishment as the film starts off boxed in within this confined environment, representative of Lippe's closed off personality but then opens up into new territories and reacts exactly how I would react in those instances. So despite not delivering on the promise of a laugh-a-minute comedy there was enough in it and parts that worked to make it a satisfactory watch, which resulted in me wanting to stay longer in Cedar Rapids.
Tim Lippe (Helms) has been living in über-sleepy Brown Valley and still
"pre-engaged", while selling insurance to protect other people's
dreams. But now he's headed to a "major" metropolis - Cedar Rapids,
Iowa - where he must try to save his company at a do-or-die insurance
The movie goes for the cheap and easy laugh but don't delivers. There are some funny scenes in this movie. Overall it's just mediocre, to over the top and not funny at all. There were several parts in the movie that really didn't need to either be in the movie, or made sense.
Ed Helms falls in this film violently by the basket. Like the rest of the cast. The only one that remains is Anne Heche. But she can't keep this film out of trash on her own.
The movie could have been hilarious, but it certainly wasn't.
Miniscule-town insurance agent Tim Lippe (Ed Helms) has cocooned
himself from reality in a world of naive love and impregnable honesty.
Self 'pre-engaged' to his former primary school teacher Macy Vanderhei
(Sigourney Weaver) works for a company, which prides itself with
consequently winning an award for best insurer. After the estranged
death of his colleague, Lippe is forced to venture to the 'big-city' of
Cedar Rapids to pitch for his company winning another trophy at a big
convention. Released from his safe environment Lippe is thrown in with
the sharks, such as the restrained African-American Ronald Wilkes
(Isiah Whitlock Jr.) and the obscene and in-your-face Dean Ziegler
(John C. Reilly), both his roommates, or the seductive Joan
Ostrowski-Fox (Anne Heche). With his innocent charm Lippe manages to
befriend the local prostitute Bree (Alia Shawkat) and soon becomes a
focus of interest by both Ziegler and Ostrowski-Fox, both intent on
'deflowering' him in their own way...
Thrown over some silly humour the cast fail to stir up any excitement, apart from the entertainment provided by Reilly spurting out crude gibberish with his crass, but endearing and well-meaning character. Somewhere in between I suppose a sense of social comedy was supposed to be afloat, let's say an odd coming-of-age story, but ultimately it just slowly drifts by failing to deliver some fire or captivate with quirky characters. The dialogue is rigidly awkward, probably intentionally, but the manner of narrative failed to appeal, instead dragging until the final credits.
*** 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.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It's probably no coincidence that Alexander Payne, one of the producers
of the new quirky farce, 'Cedar Rapids', chose to support such a
project, as there are a number of parallels with his 2002 quirky
comedy, 'About Schmidt', starring Jack Nicholson. Both films have
protagonists who work in the insurance industry. Schmidt is an
insurance actuary and Ed Helms, who plays Tim Lippe in 'Cedar Rapids',
is an insurance agent. Both films are set in the Midwest with 'Schmidt'
set in Omaha, Nebraska and 'Cedar Rapids' in Iowa.
Director Miguel Arteta improves on the smugness of Payne's Schmidt character by making his Tim Lippe protagonist much more likable. Even the principal antagonist of the piece, President Helgesson (played by the always solid Kurtwood Smith) hardly seems offensive at all (just about the worst thing he does is take a $1500 bribe from Tim). As usually is the case with these quirky indie comedies or farces, the quirky protagonist must go on a journey of self-discovery, shedding a repressed upbringing while thwarting the goals of a reactionary group that wishes to maintain the status quo. Here, Tim partners with his lovable loser insurance agents, and thwarts his greedy boss who plans to sell Tim's Blue Diamond Insurance Company (another example of a conservative group getting their comeuppance at the hands of a quirky outsider are the beauty pageant officials in 'Little Miss Sunshine').
'Cedar Rapids' can be viewed as a farcical variation on the classic 'buddy' picture, 'The Wizard of Oz'. Ed Helms plays the 'Dorothy' character whose life is thrown in disarray when he's sent on an assignment to Cedar Rapids, to ensure that his insurance company wins the prized 'Two Diamond Award' for a third year in a row. Ultimately he seeks to return home restored to a state of equilibrium after visiting Cedar Rapids, an 'Emerald City' which he is dazzled by (Nerdy and naïve Tim has never even seen a card key to open a hotel door). Along the way, Tim meets three allies who aid him in his quest, similar to the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion from 'Oz'.
Tim needs someone with some 'brains' to overcome his childish infatuations. When he's dumped by Macy, the older girlfriend played by Sigourney Weaver, Anne Heche, adopting the Scarecrow role as bold housewife Joan, appeals to Tim's intellect and manages to help him reflect on his behavior, and actually calm him down to the point where he's able to function more like an adult.
Isiah Whitlock as Ronald Wilkes, is similar to the Tin Man, as he ultimately turns out to have a big heart. Wilkes saves Tim after he's knocked down and assaulted at the party, an 'inmost cave' where the group battles dark forces (in terms of 'Oz', the Wicked Witch's castle comes to mind). Whitlock has his best scene in the film when he pretends to be a bad-ass from the ghetto, as opposed to revealing his true demeanor as a mild mannered insurance agent.
Finally, there's John C. Reilly as Zeigler, the 'Cowardly Lion' who has the 'nerve' and 'courage' to encourage Tim to just be himself. Like the 'Cowardly Lion' in Oz, Zeigler provides the comic relief throughout the film, constantly challenging the status quo by uttering one outrageous bon mot after another.
President Helgesson might be the Wizard of the piece here, who leads Tim in the wrong direction by awarding The Two Diamond Award to Tim's company after he accepts the bribe. This is akin to Dorothy's fruitless quest for the Wicked Witch's broomstick. And just as the Wizard is 'found out', President Helgesson must be exposed in the end by Tim and his intrepid allies.
'Cedar Rapids' wins points for following the classic story pattern of a hero's mythic journey, albeit told in a decidedly comic fashion. It's also pretty good natured, which is an improvement over Director Arteta's recent and rather cold effort, 'Youth in Revolt'. Nonetheless, 'Cedar' continues the unwholesome tradition of many quirky indie filmsthe protagonists, in their 'anything goes' behavior, are held up as morally superior to the antagonists, who are merely 'straw men', derided as either sexually perverse, greedy and/or emotionally repressed.
If you dig Cedar's 'anything goes' philosophy, and you accept the simplistic premise that there is an inferior underclass of conservative reactionaries, this is a film that will warm you to the bone. Others , such as myself, will find these types of films to have a few amusing moments but ultimately too smug to be taken seriously.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Ed Helms plays his usual loser character in the latest film from
director Miguel Arteta, Cedar Rapids. Cedar Rapids is a film about
bland people who go to a bland place, but for them its something
extraordinary. You know how bland they are. From the opening scene. But
thats why you root for them, and thats part of what makes it so
Ed Helms, who we know from The Office and both Hangover films, finally gets the lead role he's deserved as Tim.Tim is a boring guy. He works in insurance, and he's sleeping with a much older woman(Sigourney Weaver). He is sent to Cedar Rapids, a boring little town, for a meeting. Tim, along with other employees(including John C. Reilly and Anne Heche), find real excitement in Cedar Rapids.
The film is weirdly funny,like the films heroes. The movie wants you to love them, and you do. I mainly enjoyed them because its amazing to see how bland some people can be. Its a lot of fun, and it goes down roads you wouldn't expect.
There is one star here that I don't know his name. He's black, and i'm pretty sure that he was on the show The Wire(because he references it a lot in the film). He stole the show for me. But there are a lot of scene stealers here.
The film has a lot of funny moments and fun elements. What should be boring is made interesting by these boring people. But I suppose that is what Arteta does best. I mean, this is the guy who directed The Good Girl, a film about a boring woman that is actually very entertaining. Cedar Rapids is about a boring man that is actually very entertaining. I guess all of us boring people have our entertainment.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Cedar Rapids is a quaint, sometimes funny movie for fans of Ed Helms or
John C. Reilly. It's basically a fish-out-of-water story for Tim Lippe,
Helms' character, who is on the road trying to win his small town
insurance company another prestigious "2-Diamond Award" at an annual
awards ceremony. He has to encounter dealing with big-city types who
are used to a life of adult-fare (drinking, sex, drugs, etc), and when
he finds himself questioning how far should he go for the award, he
runs into a lot of personal hurdles and choices he's never encountered
For any fan of Helms, either in Hangover 1 & 2 or The office (amongst many other roles), this is a great movie to watch. He acts like he seriously doesn't have a clue about life outside of his hometown, and John C. Reilly is just the guy to shake things up. I loved these two men throughout the entire film, and Helms' acting while on the phone with an old teacher of his from his hometown, telling her dramatically that "he's dying" inside, is a very heart-wrenching moment.
The music was very interesting, and it was the perfect blend of comedic lightness VS rip-roaring scenes that make comedies like this great. It was good to see Arrested Development's "Maeby" character (Alia Shawkat) in a role since A.D. Interesting to see Rob Corddry almost reprise his role in "Hot Tub Time Machine" as a badass who fights no-holds-barred with Helms.
Overall, I liked it, but I wouldn't watch it over and over. It was a bit depressing at times watching Lippe have to experience all of this in one weekend and a little less plausible/realistic maybe. It's a good indie comedy with some good star power, though.
Ed Helms is more widely known for either one of three things: 1. His
role in the popular Hangover movies, 2. His role as Andy on the
American version of TV's The Office or where he got his start, 3. a
correspondent on The Daily Show. It's nice to see him shine here -- in
his own movie.
Tim Lippe (Helms) has to step up and attend the ASMI convention in Cedar Rapids when his co-worker who was supposed to attend dies suddenly. Once there, he meets Ronald Wilkes (Whitlock Jr.), Joan Ostrowski-Fox (Heche) and Dean (call me 'Deanzie') Ziegler (Reilly). Now, his boss (Root) told him to stay away from Ziegler -- but that's kind of hard when you're forced to double-up at the hotel and the man is your new roomie. Tim is not your average guy... to say he is naive is like saying Norman Bates is a 'little bit nuts', but Tim's a nice guy all the same. He's got a mature lady friend, Macy (Weaver), great job and excellent manners. He will have no horseplay-smacking of his behind, thank you very much! So, it's just that much more fun when we get a peek inside a weekend of this character's life. He's like a dog that only gets off the leash once every five years. Thing is -- even though Helms is fun to watch... his co-star, John C. Reilly steals the show. This isn't a laugh riot film by any means but it is extremely fun to see what some tight-suited insurance agents do to unwind -- the pool scene alone is worth either the rental or purchase. This is certainly one film that I will be watching again because of the subtle, funny performances by practically everyone involved. More reviews at www.soveryterry.com Final Grade: B+
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