To call insurance agent Tim Lippe (Ed Helms), "naÃ¯ve" is a gross
understatement. He's never left his small hometown. He's never stayed at
a hotel. And he's never experienced anything like Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Sent to represent his company at the annual insurance convention, Tim is
soon distracted by three convention veterans (John C. Reilly, Anne
Heche and Isiah Whitlock Jr.) who will show him the ropes and push his
boundaries. For a guy who plays everything by the book, this convention
will be anything but conventional. - Fox Searchlight Pictures
Now before I begin, I want to make one thing clear: I am in love with this film because for 86 straight minutes it made me suffer from uncontrollable laughter. Ok, now for the overall review--if I were you though I would just skip it, read the comedy factor category below, and buy your ticket now--but I'll write it out anyways.
Tim Lippe (Ed Helms) is an insurance salesman from the small town of Brown Valley, Wisconsin. From the decor of his bedroom I am pretty sure he still sleeps in the same bed as when he was a kid, and he is 34 years old. Tim works for Brown Valley Insurance, home of the coveted ASMI two diamond award for the past two years. When a tragic (but comical) accident befalls the star insurance agent of the firm Tim must go in his place to the annual ASMI convention and bring home another two diamond award, or lose his job. Like a child walking through the gates at Disneyland for the first time Tim finds everything about Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and the convention itself, to be fantastic. For Tim, going to Cedar Rapids is the first time he has ever left Brown Valley and it will end up being a weekend that makes up for an entire life of no debauchery in a few days. Left to his own devices Tim would have stayed the course and acted like the professional, simpleton of a man he is in Brown Valley. Fate has other plans for him when he inadvertently ends up sharing a room with the notorious Dean Ziegler (John C. Reilly) and is awakened to the "exciting" world Cedar Rapid's has to offer.
The film is centered around Tim giving a winning presentation for the two diamond award but you could really care less about the plot at all. What makes this film work is the comedic abilities of all involved, and the practically non-stop jokes it provides; screenwriter Phil Johnston has a gift for one-liners that will do more for your stomach muscles than hours at the gym. His talents for writing raunchy jokes and comedic scenes is where a great deal of his talent remains for the script of Cedar Rapids. The movie is plagued with serious dips in tempo. Everything is moving along great and then suddenly you are thrown into a scene that feels awkward, out of place, and lacking any humor whatsoever. The necessary beats to keep the story in line are all but nonexistent, and the ending very rushed. The second act appears to forget completely the entire set-up. Which is what makes the plot inconsequential when watching the film. Seeing Tim grow up before your eyes, while getting into all sorts of fun trouble, is what keeps your attention and laughter on high. Tim is a uniquely written character full of eyes wide wonderment. Dean Ziegler is the perfect counterpart to his naivete. Watch for the laughs the characters provide and you will have a fantastic time. Expect greatness, and be disappointed.
After watching Cedar Rapids the first thing I wanted to do was write the review for the film so I could share the hilarity of it with the masses. Then I realized, after driving home and reciting some of the most offensive and side splitting funny lines in the film, that I would just want to write all of them down and thus spoil the shock and enjoyment they would bring to a viewer. So I waited, and fell asleep replaying many of the scenes in my head and laughing once again. This is what Cedar Rapids will do to anyone. You will be laughing for hours afterwards and having to control yourself from sharing all of the jokes with your friends who were not fortunate enough to watch the film with you. It is beyond words how funny John C. Reilly's character Dean Ziegler is...thank Reilly's complete dedication to this crass, vulgar, wholly inappropriate and far from PC character. Some of the things he says...I could never say with a straight face, let alone on camera. But I had no problem laughing right along, as my jaw hit the floor on more than one occasion. Even the most derogatory lines towards women had me laughing, instead of rolling my eyes. Ed Helm's and his trusty travel pouch...oh my...priceless. I have to stop now, or I will divulge too much, like eating tuna fish from the bottom shelf. This movie has College Frat House worship written all over it.
February 11, 2011