An insurance salesman from Brown Valley, Wisconsin – Tim Lippe (rhymes with yippee) – travels to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and reaches the big time through re-living a lost adolescence.
Sifting through the new additions to Lovefilm (most of which are just the same old films they’ve had for ages, but needing to re-promote because they are a lazy company), I came acorss Cedar Rapids. I wasn’t a huge fan of Ed Helms, but when i saw John C. Reilly was in this comedy, i had to check it out.
Cedar Rapids was a real surprise, and in a very good way.
Tim Lippe (Ed Helms) is introduced to the audience as a caring insurance salesman, instantly setting him apart from the cliched sales-focused, couldn’t-give-a-shit-about-the-customer type of salesperson we all know and detest. Straight away, we like Tim. the company he works for is his family and so are his customers. He’s not had a perfect upbringing – father left him when he was young, and mother deserted him as a teenager. His replacement father is his boss, Bill (Stephen Root), and his mother in all it’s Oedipus complexity is his former high school teacher Macy (Sigourney Weaver), with whom he is having a loving and physical relationship with.
He’s given a chance at greatness when a colleague passes away and the insurance company needs a representative to go to Cedar Rapids for a very important Insurance Convention. There he makes new friends – Ronald, Dean and Joan (Isiah Whitlock Jnr, John C. Reilly and Anne Heche) and experiences for real the growing pains of a twenty-something.
The movie truly picks up after Tim checks into his hotel and gets to know his colleagues. His relationships with his “proxy parents” back in Brown Valley slowly disintegrates, and Tim’s reactions are akin to those of a teenager or twenty-something coming to terms with life, the many situations we’re forced to face and the realization that the only way is forward.
Directed by Miguel Arteta (“The Good Girl”), this movie is handled without the need to shock the viewer with slapstick gross-out scenes like most comedy offerings. Arteta handles the direction deftly and with real attention to Ed Helms’ Tim, who is constantly in a state of wide-eyed excitement that you would associate with a baby. Helms carries off his role as Tim quite comfortably and keeps us engaged for the 87-minute run time. (Nod to Arteta for keeping the story tight and in control here). The rest of the cast are excellent, although I found Ronald (Whitlock) under-used and possibly could have had more of a story for us to uncover. John C. Reilly has so much fun as Dean Ziegler, and enjoys the funniest scene in the hotel pool – late at night wearing the rubbish bin lid over his head, balancing his drink and imitating R2-D2. Anne Heche as the flirty, melancholy mother of 2 (almost a MILF) was also outstanding. Best movie I’ve seen her in.
This was a small gem of a film and had the right amount of laughs and the right balance of “real” moments, directed with the care that is lacking in most comedies being churned out by the Hollywood cookie-cutter. Give it look and you’ll see what I mean.