Muni reviews: Cedar Rapids (2011)

Directed by: Miguel Arteta

So as I’ve become a head writer on this wonderful website, I have been asked by Kazed to review at least one film every week. Generally this wouldn’t be an issue, as I would go to the cinema 2 to 3 times a week, but I’m not living in Birmingham anymore and there’s nothing like a Cineworld card in Leicester (which is a shame!!). Anyway, so Kazed has asked me to review new-ish films which I will do, also I hope to watch some films over the summer and concentrate on indie films as much as I can.

Back to me reviewing this week’s film, which is Cedar Rapids.

Ed Helms (Andy in "The Office") stars as Tim Lippe, the most sheltered, naive mid-western insurance agent ever captured on film. Lippe lives and works in Brown Valley, Wisconsin ... the most sheltered, naive mid-western town ever captured on film. His only real excitement is found through his "pre-engagement" to his 7th grade teacher played very well by Sigourney Weaver. When an embarrassing accident claims the life of the hotshot agent in Lippe's firm, the owner sends Lippe to the annual convention in Cedar Rapids. His mission is to win the coveted 2-Diamond Award presented by industry legend Orin Helgesson.

Since a lone character can't generate many laughs, circumstances at the convention cause Lippe to find himself roommates with a very noble Ronald Wilkes and fast-talking poacher Dean Ziegler. These 3 are joined together by Nebraska agent Joan Ostrowski-Fox. Lippe is quickly introduced to the "real world" by his new friends and after the first 20 minutes of set-up, the lines and settings get funnier and funnier.

As with most comedies these days, the trailer gives away much more than it should; but, unlike most, it leaves plenty of laughs and situations for the film. What really makes this work are that all characters are actually pretty nice people ... they are just a bit exaggerated in their traits. Lippe is a bit too naive. Wilkes is a bit too uptight. Ziegler is a bit too obnoxious, and Fox is just a little too lonely and adventurous. Still, their earnestness is what keeps the film grounded.

Alia Shawkat’s portrayal of the prostitute and a lovely dimension to the film and brought uniqueness to the film, and I really enjoyed her brief yet screen grabbing performance.

Ed Helms is really a comic force. He has the extraordinary ability to never hold back or worry how that he might not look cool. Even as the lead character, he knows when scene-stealer John C Riley should have the spotlight. This is a tremendous asset for a comic.

Where the film does falter in my opinion is the story and at times the acting, don’t get me wrong as a cast they were fantastic, but individually there was something missing. Maybe I just didn’t find it at all believable or credible, but that is a small part in a well-rounded film.

I won't give away much, but will warn that some of the humor is crude, especially some of Riley's rapid-fire one-liners. If you prefer your humor to be grounded with real people, then you might want to check this one out. I have only previously known this director, Miguel Arteta,as the guy who directed, “the good girl”  and “youth in revolt” both films which I really enjoyed. Now I look forward to his next project.

My verdict, this is a wonderfully executed indie film that has a bright and appealing cast, the story is different and overall pleasurable. The film is worth watching and if you’re a fan of Ed helms and John C. Riley then I’d recommend this to you. This may not be everyone’s taste so let me warn you know but for those who would enjoy it you’re welcome.




A little about me: I'm currently studying Film Production Technology at Birmingham City University, going into my second year. As well as that I'm working on a few Film projects at the moment and hop