ED HELMS JOHN C. REILLY ANNE HECHE ISIAH WHITLOCK JR
From the director of The Good Girl, a film with perfect comedic pitch, comes a new film in the same vein. Miguel Arteta is one of the best directors behind dark comedy; his choices in projects almost always rise above the obnoxious comedies that plague cinemas and stir boredom. Cedar Rapids isn’t as intelligent or praise worthy as The Good Girl, nor are the performances as memorable. However, Cedar Rapids has a niche much like Jennifer Aniston’s small town film. Still witty and funny on many levels, Cedar Rapids understands that less is always more in this genre.
When the star employee of Brownsville Insurance dies suddenly, Tim Lippe (Helmes) is chosen to take over at the insurance convention in Cedar Rapids to secure the company another Two Diamond Award. Tim never left the small town of Brownsville, where he is comfortable having an on-and-off affair with his sixth grade teacher (Sigourney Weaver). When he arrives in Cedar Rapids, everything is new for Tim and, even though he was provided a list of people to mingle with and people to stay away from, Tim is instantly swayed into the wrong crowd as he begins to become wild for the first time in his life.
In many ways, the Tim Lippe character reminds me a lot of Steve Carrel’s 40 Year Old Virgin as he begins the story very innocent and green, yet by the end of the film his character changes completely for laughs. So much change within one character can often be seen as both unrealistic and duty bound; while Helms has his funny moments, and moments far more creative than in The Hangover, it’s still never the kind of material that amazes. Like most of Arteta’s films, Cedar Rapids continuously tries to stay within the realm of possibility, and that’s an element I always look for in comedy.
Oscar nominated actor John C. Reilly has proven himself as one of the more versatile comedians; he can go from a film like Talladega Nights to Chicago or even play a killer in The River Wild. His unpredictable behavior is put to great use here as a sloppy insurance agent with a foul mouth and a nose for disaster. Reilly never steals the show from Helms, who seems to be the next comedian on the rise, but provides most of the comic relief. Heche (Six Days, Seven Nights, Ally McBeal) is another actor who can do drama and comedy interchangeably. Surprisingly, it’s supporting star Whitlock who has the film’s most memorable scenes. Cedar Rapids, which is better than most of the 2010 Golden Globe nominated films in comedy, will likely suffer the same fate other small comedies did last year due to early release and lack of word of mouth.
Final Thought – Fresher than most overblown comedies.
By: Dustin Chase W.
Editor: Michael Woody
Dr. Donna Copeland’s
I saw this movie with a large audience at a sneak preview. There were lots of chuckles and gasps, suggesting that it was well received and people were having fun with it. That may have influenced my response, as I was right there with them. I liked it as much as I did The Hangover, a film I was reminded of.
I didn’t care much for the opening scene with Sigourney Weaver, and felt that that relationship could have been left out altogether. Younger men/older women relationships are much more accepted now (for which I’m glad), but when the female character is made to be such a mother, it gets creepy.
The filmmakers did a good job in casting, in bringing out the characters one by one, keeping the quick pace of the story, and keeping the viewer engaged and wondering what would happen next. Set-up scenes for later outcomes lent coherency, and the “moral of the story” was lightly done in a way that resonated with the audience.
Values and character development surfaced and blossomed by the end, leaving the viewers with a good feeling about the world and most of the people we meet in everyday life.
This man-about-town is a new role for Gosling. I’m thinking of his previous films, The Believer, Half Nelson, and most recently, Blue Valentine. Here, he is distinctly authoritative even when seducing women, and presents as the polar opposite of Cal. How these two men interact with one another and evolve across time is not only entertaining, but constitutes a major part of the story.
The newly found love interests/lusts of the three main characters are cleverly played by Kevin Bacon, Marissa Tomei, and Emma Stone. The younger actors—Analeigh Tipton, Jonah Bobo, and Joey King—are impressive in their ability to blend in with the skills of the more experienced group.
As an engaging comedy with some substance to it, this is a good production, and should do very well at the box office.
Grade B Dr. Donna R. Copeland