Cedar Rapids Movie Review
Between the two Hangover movies, star Ed Helms took a solo stab at comedy with the early 2011 release Cedar Rapids, a movie about a naively innocent insurance salesman who travels out of state for the first time to an insurance seminar, where he gets himself into a variety of absurd situations. Cedar Rapids is a mildly amusing comedy that never quite finds its footing.
Cedar Rapids is a pretty plain film. The movie is easy to watch and more or less entertaining, but lacking memorable laughs. "Forgettable" is a bit harsh but not far from the truth. While the characters get into some crazy situations, like a drug-fueled hick party and some strange icebreaking games, the movie is generally unremarkable.
Helms is okay in the lead, but director Miguel Arteta (Youth in Revolt) and writer Phil Johnston (nothing you've heard of) put too much of the film's weight on his shoulders. Helms is a funny guy, but his goofy, nice-guy-next-door mannerisms only go so far. Also, I never understood his character's naivety toward all situations (drinking, socializing, traveling to another state, etc.); the act wears thin quickly.
Helms is joined by comedy veteran John C. Reilly, who plays over-the-top salesman Dean Zieglar, and Anne Heche and Isiah Whitlock Jr. As with many comedies, it's the supporting cast who make or break the film; the trio manages to entertain, but not derive a whole lot of laughs. Reilly easily injects the most energy into the production, but he's been better elsewhere. Whitlock Jr. has a smaller role but is a pleasant surprise as the straight-talking black man of the group.
Heche looks surprisingly good, but doesn't add a whole lot to the picture.
Cedar Rapids has enough little moments to keep things entertaining, but it is an early year release for a reason. The movie doesn't have a whole lot of purpose for existing, and doesn't present many reasons to make it worth watching. If you're starved for comedies, you could do worse. Then again, you could just watch The Hangover. Or "The Office".
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.