DVD of the Week: Cedar Rapids (2011)

Cedar Rapids

If the weather outside is wonderful and you happen to be sick on a Saturday, there may be no better way to pass the time than curling up on the couch with a good movie.  This was very much the case for me this past weekend and I found myself debating between some horror that I recently purchased and have not watched and some comedies… all of which were rated R and fortunately, Mrs. Blahg took the kids out so I could wallow in my Sudafed haze.  This week… comedy ruled the day.

The movie I chose to suffer my summer cold with is Cedar Rapids, a wonderful little film released earlier this year to much praise and little fanfare.  Starring Ed Helms as Tim Lippe, an insurance salesman from Brown Valley, Wisconsin who has never ventured far from home and suddenly finds himself having to head to the big city of Cedar Rapids, Iowa for an insurance convention after the top salesman at his company, Brown Star Insurance, dies.

Having never even been on an airplane before, everything that greets Tim is magnificent and confusing.  This film focuses on Tim’s rube-like aww-shucks approach to life and what happens when he is confronted with real life situations and loud mouthed and vulgar insurance reps such as Dean Ziegler.  John C. Reilly plays Ziegler for big and obnoxious laughs… yet, likable in some grotesque sort of way.  Once at the convention, Tim is inched closer and closer to reckless abandon while always maintaining the goofiness of his character.

For as much silliness Helms imbues Tim with… and he really is quite pathetic… we are along with him throughout his crazy weekend.  This is not The Hangover by any stretch… this one actually has heart and emotion and is remarkably centered.  At various points throughout the movie I was rooting for Tim to alternately loosen up or rein it in… and Helms plays the part perfectly.

Rounding out the major cast roles are Anne Heche as the saleswoman with a family who attends the convention in order to live out one weekend of debauched fun… Stephen Root as Tim’s boss back home… and Isiah Whitlock Jr. in a hilariously understated performance.

There is nothing grandiose or epic about Cedar Rapids, it is a decidedly small picture… but it’s warmth coupled with some wonderful performances are a welcome respite from often lesser fare that shoot for the moon.  If you enjoy “fish out of water” stories that end up with the main character beaten and debauched with a smile on his face… then this is for you.  Cedar Rapids… buy it, rent it or stream it… just see this movie.

Living the big city life,
Cornelius J. Blahg

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *