Friday, 11 February 2011

Cedar Rapids

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Dir: Miguel Arteta (Youth in Revolt, The Good Girl)
Cast: Ed Helms, John C. Reilly, Anne Heche, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Root, Kurtwood Smith, Alia Shawkat
USA, 2011

Reason to see: Really like the cast, especially Ed Helms & John C. Reilly

If you are looking for a film that combines crass comedy and a low-on-social-skills adult protagonist, Cedar Rapids is for you. The films follows Tim Lippe (Ed Helms of "The Office) who has led an oddly sheltered life and then is overwhelmed by the opportunity to go to Cedar Rapids, Iowa to represent his company at an annual insurance convention. It's clear Tim hasn't been around anywhere but the block a few times, so the convention presents him with a multitude of stresses including the pressure to perform on behalf of his workplace at this event.

The context presents lots of opportunities for awkward humour as the naïve but earnest Tim does his best in every scenario. The comedy is often based in social awkwardness with his fellow Cedar Rapids convention attendees the outrageous Dean Ziegler (John C. Reilly), the straight-man Ronald Wilkes (Isiah Whitlock Jr.) and the one lady in tow Joan Ostrowski-Fox (Anne Heche), and I actually quite enjoyed the performances here especially by Anne Heche who had a great knack for the comedy and being the 'crazy girl who hangs with the guys', but also bringing a subtle but stable emotional centre to the film. Ed Helms is perfect as Tim, whose emotions are all over the place from being overwhelmed and excited to scared but always driven to work to achieve his goal. Now that goal is one of the things that didn't quite sit well with me with the film, as it was about a convention, but there wasn't much convention-ing going on at the convention. There was lots of fun activities, planned or spontaneous, but I never felt like we saw whatever it was that Tim was supposed to be doing there, which was a huge driving force of the film. There we also some oddities in terms of it being presented as a convention of religious-values folk, but the folk sure weren't all that religious. I get playing that for a gag, which they did and it works, but I didn't believe that all of the people there would be part of that circle.

I enjoyed the character of Tim and his enthusiasm over the smallest things is certainly infectious, but the humour often turned to embracing awkwardness of not following things like bathroom etiquette or highlighted limited thinking and stereotyping, I knew it wasn't going to quite be a film for me. There were moments of earnest truths in the characters from time to time, which I did really get something from but they also felt like quite sad truths against the comedy backdrop. But it's really a comedy at heart so people are there for the laughs and it really doesn't hold back going for the punches on the crass humour, physical comedy and creative language that at times is well past disgusting. So if that is your thing, than Cedar Rapids is for you.

Shannon's Overall View:
I'm not the target market
I don't think I'd watch it again
I'd recommend it to fans of crass comedies

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© Shannon Ridler, 2011

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