Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with some short thoughts on Cedar Rapids, one of the higher profile films of Sundance.
I say short for a few different reasons. One, and probably the most pressing, is that I’m running on fumes and have to be up for tomorrow morning’s first movie in less than 7 hours and secondly, there’s not much to say about Cedar Rapids.
If you’re curious enough to read this review odds are you’ve seen the trailer. If you’ve seen the trailer you’ve seen about 80% of what’s funny in the movie.
Cedar Rapids follows a small town insurance agent, one of the good guys that doesn’t look for every loophole to fuck grannies out of their claims. He’s a good agent, the definition of the term “straight-laced.” So, yeah. Everybody walks all over him and he’ll never shine as bright as Thomas Lennon’s Roger Lemke. That is until Lemke chokes to death due to a failed auto-erotic asphyxiation and now it’s up to Helms to continue Lemke’s winning tradition at the annual insurance convention in Cedar Rapids.
Helms’ Tim Lippe has never been out of his small town and so it’s the fairly standard fish out of water tale as he leaves his comfort zone and meets the wild and crazy Dean Ziegler (John C. Reilly) who introduces this man-child to the wonders of alcohol, promiscuous sex and hooker-befriending.
I quite like all the cast and they’re all perfectly cast for their characters and the script isn’t bad, nor is the direction. The problem with this movie is that it just kind of lays there. It is what it is, not offensive, but not very engaging. I can’t say I was bored, but very little of the movie stuck with me. In one ear and out the other.
It seemed like the flick wanted to go a little crazier than it did. For instance we’re randomly introduced to crack smoking at the end that is one of the better moments of the movie, but that doesn’t really lead anywhere.
Helms is incredibly likable as always, Reilly can do no wrong for me, especially playing an eccentric offensive loud mouth type character, Alia Shawkat brings the most to her role as the hooker that takes a shine to the totally unaware Tim Lippe, Sigourney Weaver shows up to be in a few scenes where she’s either fucking Ed Helms or talking to him over the phone, Isiah Whitlock Jr. plays the whitest black dude ever (and yes, I’m including Carlton), Anne Heche plays the comedy version of the Vera Farmiga character in Up In The Air and Stephen Root is Helms’ demanding and uber religious boss.
Root gets a lot more to do here than he did in Red State and as a result is much more like his old, awesome self. I also have to bring up Kurtwood “Bitches Leave” Smith, one of America’s most criminally underused actors. He plays the strict Jesus-loving Orin, head of the organization that gives out these trophies that Helms is tasked to win for his company.
Smith milks this character for all it is worth, including one of the best non-trailer moments that involves… well, I won’t ruin it since it is one of the rare funny bits that wasn’t in the trailer, but lets just say it’s an awkward hug.
I don’t know if anybody can really hate Cedar Rapids. It’s earnest and has some really great people jamming together, but it never really feels like it all comes together in a bigger way.
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