Being an insurance agent might not be the ideal profession of the majority of people, but after seeing Cedar Rapids, I am convinced that there is much more fun to be had in the insurance game than previously thought.
Directed by Miguel Arteta (Youth in Revolt), this comedy stars Ed Helms and John C. Reilly, who are both sensational, as always. Helms plays Tim Lippe, a good Christian from a small town in Wisconsin. A very conservative insurance agent, Lippe is genuinely in love with his job.
His job takes him to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the site of an annual insurance convention. This Midwestern town might seem bland to the average passerby, but to him it’s the most beautiful place on earth. Here he meets an assortment of odd but entertaining characters, including Dean Ziegler (Reilly), an oaf with no wife, no commitments and no desire for anything but parties.
Sure enough, the whole weekend becomes one huge party as Lippe, as he himself puts it, “part[ies] hardy.” Of course, mayhem ensues, but the usual movie mishaps that befall these characters are different than those you’ve seen a dozen times over because they are happening to characters that you can really imagine as being real. Rare is the comedy film that brings together so eclectic and realistic a bunch of characters as these.
The supporting cast stars a slew of veteran actors like Sigourney Weaver and Anne Heche. While scene-to-scene the film gets buckets of laughs, there’s always that lingering sense of disappointment. It often seems like the film needs only one small nudge to take it from the confines of “funny” to the upper echelon of comedy that is “hilarious.”
Nevertheless, the film is very well written and will give you, if nothing else, a great insight into the workings of a small-town mentality as it exists today. What’s more, the fact of the matter is that this is February. Good comedies are about as rare to come along in February as Christmas movies are in May. If you’re longing for a comedy out in theaters at this time of year, it might be best to just settle for the least bad movie.
Cedar Rapids is that rare February feat of humor —- a cute and witty film featuring a series of talented actors. It’s not the best film, and obviously it was not manufactured to attain international acclaim, but you won’t feel remiss paying to see it. In other words, at the moment it is the best comedy out there by far.