Cedar Rapids - 4 out 5
Who would have thought that a movie about an insurance convention would be funny? Certainly not I, in case you were wondering. Cedar Rapids stars Ed Helms as a young, slightly—okay, VERY—awkward insurance salesmen named Tim Lippe who is forced to take the place of another rep who dies while engaging in autoerotic asphyxiation. His boss, played hilariously by Stephen Root, all but demands that Helms’ character win, for a fourth year in a row, the coveted insurance "Two Diamonds" award.
The film becomes your typical fish out of water story (although many of these stories don’t involve insurance salesmen, so how typical can it be?) when Lippe meets with some colorful characters that shatters his world. You’ve got Isiah Whitlock Jr. as the dry talking Ronald Wilkes and John C. Reilly as the in-your-face, wild guy type that Reilly can play so well. And the final partner in this cavalcade of characters is Anne Heche as the over-sexed harlot of the group. However, Reilly’s character also comes off as over-sexed so maybe she’s basically just the female version of that character. Either or, at least she's not acting crazy or claiming she's talking to God or aliens like she's done in the past. Of course, it goes without saying that Lippe isn’t use to all this and he’s quickly thrown into a world of prostitutes (played by Maeby from Arrested Development), drugs and booze. Who knew insurance salesman could party so hard?
From the get go, Cedar Rapids has the makings of one of those boring indie comedies that puts more emphasis in the soundtrack that surrounds the typical boring and depressed lead character but instead goes with great, humorous characters (especially Ed Helms who, in this movie, has shown me he may have what it takes to follow in his buddy Steven Carrell’s footsteps as a potential leading man) and jokes that will range from the incredibly witty (like Isiah Whitlock Jr. referencing The Wire) to the downright insane. While the film may never get to the point you’ll bust your gut laughing, the emotion placed in and the perfect balance the film brings in the form of story, character and wit, Cedar Rapids proves to be an enjoyable movie.