Sunday, February 27, 2011

Movie Review - Cedar Rapids

Cedar Rapids - ***

Directed by:

Starring: Ed Helms, John C. Reilly, Anne Heche, Sigourney Weaver

Review: 'Cedar Rapids' might as well make you think you're in Vegas, after all "what happens in Cedar Rapids, stays in Cedar Rapids." Every year denizens of the insurance industry in the northern states region descend upon Cedar Rapids for the convention put on by the ASMI (what that really stands for escapes me at the moment). At this convention the prestigious Two Diamonds award is given out to the best insurance agency in the region. This has been won the past 3 years by Brown Star insurance from Brown Valley, Wisconsin. The problem is that their representative who has been representing them for those awards is now dead and it's up to Ed Helms to save the day and keep the streak going.

Seems normal enough right? The only problem is Helms' character is your consummate small town-er, has probably never been out of Brown Valley, and most definitely never been to a city as 'big' as Cedar Rapids. He has no idea what he is in store for when he arrives. Before he was sent on his mission to with the two diamonds his boss hands him notes from previous conferences where it tells him to get in good with certain people and, more importantly, stay away from certain people as well, the main person being a fellow named Dean.

It's much to Helms' characters chagrin that it is the very same Dean that winds up being his roommate when he arrives. Dean has no idea about his reputation but he can probably guess. Dean is a boorish, loud, outspoken, if not good-hearted individual who likes to have a good time at Cedar Rapids every year. This includes drinking, partying, and whatever other shenanigans he can get in to, all in the name of having a good time, of course.

Helms quickly finds he is out of his element after unknowingly befriending a prostitute, being introduced to 'The Deansy' and having a shot thrust upon him all within just a few hours of arriving. He also meets Joan, a rather attractive looking redhead played by Anne Heche who he is instantly enamored with and intimidated by all in the same introduction.

After all the intros are made (also to include Helms' introduction to his other roommate Ronald or 'The Ronimal' as Dean calls him), that is where the shenanigans begin. Through the course of this weekend Helms' character finds himself breaking up with his 'girlfriend' from back home (Sigourney Weaver in a nice guess role), sexing up a married woman, being caught nearly skinny dipping by the head of ASMI, and getting high on drugs he probably didn't even know existed.

I assure all these hijinks lead to some quite funny moments (culminating with a heart to heart speech between Helms and Deansy (Reilly) in which they are both in their underwear. Each character has their moments of funniness and tenderness and the chemistry between all the characters is quite remarkable.

With 'The Hangover' being the benchmark comedy to come along recently, this doesn't exactly compare, and that is not a bad thing at all, they are just two different types of comedy. 'The Hangover' consisted of a 4-5 really funny scenes, a few minor laughs and the rest was a normal movie. 'Cedar Rapids' is a movie in which every scene is meant to be comedic in one form or another and each one has it's moments of comical brilliance (especially the scenes with Reilly in them) but you're never going to have that fall-forward laughter moment you had in movies like 'The Hangover.'

If you are a fan of dryer, more subtle humor then you will definitely enjoy this movie quite a bit. Helms is not his slapstick persona from other movies but closer to the character he plays on the TV show 'The Office.' He might take himself too seriously, he might be a tad obnoxious, but he is good hearted when it comes down to it.

The true brilliance is how John C. Reilly's character permeates every scene and Reilly truly solidifies why he is so highly thought of as a comedic actor (and underrated as a serious actor if you ask me). His character has a perfect over-the-top, man on a mission, have a crazy Vegas-type weekend that suits the movie perfectly and is a perfect counterpoint to the subtlety of the other main characters.

If you're going in to this movie expecting to bust a gut laughing you might be disappointed but if you like subtle humor and constantly having something to make you laugh then this movie is definitely worth your time.

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