Saturday, March 12, 2011

Cedar Rapids

This morning I saw Cedar Rapids, starring Ed Helms and Anne Heche.

Tim Lippe (Helms) is a small-town insurance agent who honestly believes in his work and does his best to do right by his clients. After all, most of them are his friends and family.

Dean Ziegler (John C. Reilly) is the used-car-salesman of the insurance industry. He offers bribes, tries to spook the competition and lacks respect—for himself and others.

The two meet at an annual conference, where Tim is a classic fish-out-of-water in the "big city" and has trouble acclimating to the group mentality.

Joan Ostrowski-Fox (Heche) is a married mother of two who treats this yearly outing as an excuse to let loose. She immediately targets Tim as a plaything and soon has him loosening up among his new friends.

Though Helms is charming and well-cast in this role, the screenwriters didn't bring much "fresh" to the novelty of him being a rookie conference attendee. The joke of him figuring out a room key card and in the same breath, being startled by the presence of a black man just don't play funny.

Reilly is practically a caricature and even less funny than Helms because he has the added bonus of bathroom humor on his plate.

Alia Shawkat from Arrested Development provides the most refreshing laughs in her turn as a prostitute, and Isiah Whitlock, Jr. as the token black character also lights up the screen with the best lines in the movie referring to his obsession with The Wire.

I was disappointed that the film never 'picked up' and paid off the two romances it began for its main character, but it's certainly not the fault of the actors.

With a better script, they'd have done just fine.


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