By: Oberst von Berauscht (Two Beers) –
Midwestern naiveté is brutally skewered in Puerto Rican filmmaker Miguel Arteta’s low key comedy Cedar Rapids.Tim Lippe (Ed Helms) is a talented and successful small-town insurance salesman from Wisconsin.His success comes not from sharp-tongued salesmanship, but rather an honest dedication to his clients.He has lived in the same small town his whole life, and has little experience out of his element.When the top performer at his office dies suddenly in a bizarre case of auto-erotic asphyxiation, it falls to Tim to venture forth to the “big city” of Cedar Rapids, Iowa for the big convention, to restore the dignity of the company, and hopefully earn the distinguished “Two Diamonds” award his boss craves.
Ed Helms, most well known for his work on The Daily Show and The Hangover receives his first starring role and proves he can handle the pressure.In fact, all involved turn in wonderfully endearing performances. John C. Reilly for instance as Dean Zeigler, a living, breathing sad-sack story concealed by alcohol and a perpetual need to party.Also notable is Ron (Isiah Whitlock Jr.), a straight edged Wisconsinite.
The world of Cedar Rapids is a nice, homespun one, where every “aw-shucks” moment is met with a fittingly bawdy “darn it”.Underneath this polite and neighborly exterior, and throughout the film is the ever increasing sense that dark secrets lay in wait…
What keeps Cedar Rapids from perfection is often the same thing that makes the film so appealing.Often times the off-kilter quirky feel of the film can become overwhelming.The humor is often so dry that you hardly laugh at all, and merely feel a slight amusement.Don’t get me wrong, there are some absolutely hilarious moments in the film, but I found myself laughing less and less as the film moved along.Perhaps in another viewing the dryer moments will grow on me.Anchorman had a similar sense of humor to this at times, and that film took a couple viewings to grow accustomed to as well.I’ll call this a provisional 2nd beer, until I’m able to view the movie again and reassess.
A bit light on big laughs, but Cedar Rapids has fine performances, and is never less than amusing.”
Bonus Drinking Game
Take a drink: when John C. Reilly makes an awkward comment
Take a drink: Whenever Rob Corddry appears in the background
Drink a shot: when Ron mentions an HBO program