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Published on May 4th, 2011 | by Sue Murphy

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Movie Review: Cedar Rapids

Small town guy gets a shake-up and must temporarily take leave of his uneventful, mundane, depressing life.  During said shake-up, he realises there is a much bigger world out there than he first realised.  Lo and behold, his life is changed forever.  Nothing too unfamiliar about that plot, but somehow, surprisingly, Cedar Rapids manages to pull this all off and manages to get a few laughs in the process.

Tim Lippe (Ed Helms) has lived a humdrum life in Brown Valley, Wisconsin, selling insurance to his loyal clients and “pre-engaged” to his 7th grade teacher, Macy (Sigourney Weaver).  However, following the inevitable suicide of his work colleague (it was inevitable, read the last sentence), Tim is sent to a conference in Cedar Rapids, where he must save his colleagues jobs and his own, by winning the Two Diamonds, a coveted accolade which will distinguish his company from the others.  Although warned by his boss about who to befriend, Tim inevitably falls in with those he has been warned about, namely Dean (John C. Reilly) and Joan (Anne Heche) who attend Cedar Rapids mainly to have a good time.  Events soon spiral out of Tim’s control but along the way he learns some of life’s valuable lessons.

The reason I say surprisingly is because I was aware that Miguel Arteta was set to direct this project a while back and Arteta will forever be associated in my mind with The Good Girl, a great film albeit not an enjoyable one.  I was also slightly sceptical about Ed Helms leading the project and to be honest, here my uneasiness was well-founded.  Like it or not, and although Helms is a great comic actor, he will forever be “that guy in The Hangover” or “that guy from The Office.”  He needed that role that would take him out of either of the two, and unfortunately Cedar Rapids is not it.  Occasionally, his character was almost frustratingly annoying and at times felt like it wasn’t that much of a departure from his turn in The Hangover, just as straight-laced but admittedly way more naive.

The movie still manages to pull out the laughs, but these are mostly due to the fantastic supporting cast.  John C. Reilly’s Dean stays in an almost permanent state of intoxication throughout the entire film and Anne Heche is more than reliable as the female sidekick.  The real star of the show for me, however, was Isiah Whitlock Jnr and if you are a Wire fan, I will save you from the spoilers.

Overall, not a bad watch but in parts you may feel like you are watching a really strange episode of The Brady Bunch.

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2 Responses to Movie Review: Cedar Rapids

  1. i have to say I enjoyed the moral ambiguity of the film and the claustrophobic hotel interiors

  2. Neil says:

    What an odd review,it was not suicide in the opening minutes,didn’t you get the multitude of sex jokes about how he asphyxiated!!,think David Carradine, it was only John C.Reilly who he was warned about,it would be a very strange episode of the Brady Bunch…seeing as the two are in no way related,it would also be a very strange narrative on calcium deficiency

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