CEDAR RAPIDS: THE SUPER AWESOME EDITION
MOVIE: ***1/2 (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: ***1/2 (out of 5)
BY KEVIN CARR
WHAT IT’S ABOUT
Ted Lippey (Ed Helms) is one of the best insurance salesmen in his small Midwestern town. He gets a chance to represent his office in a convention in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where he loses his innocence in many ways. After meeting some strange characters, he has a crazy adventure, which opens his eyes to different types of people, what his boss is really like and who he is as a person.
WHAT I LIKED
“Cedar Rapids” is a fun little movie that really strikes a balance between comfortable friendliness and bat-shit crazy silliness. It rides squarely on the shoulders of Ed Helms, who has proved himself as a fine comedian, not only in “The Office” but also in the “Hangover” films.
The writing is sharp, not shying away from controversial subjects or situations. It manages to show the simplistic beauty of the Midwestern lifestyle but also the seedy underbelly. I’ve been in plenty of hotels across the Midwest, and I’ve been to my fair share of convention-like experiences. This film isn’t that far from the truth, and it’s honest about it.
The real key is the cast. Beyond Helms, you’ve got John C. Reilly playing his standard but funny obnoxious blowhard character, as well as Anne Heche, who normally doesn’t do it for me, but she looks mighty fine here. Other great performances in this film come from Isiah Whitlock Jr., Stephen Root and Kurtwood Smith.
“Cedar Rapids” flew under many people’s radar, and that’s a shame. It’s definitely one to check out.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
The only real problem I saw in “Cedar Rapids” is that it gets really dark, really fast in the middle. At one point, it threatens to get too dark, but ultimately it works.
The characters aren’t perfect, and they have some unsavory parts of their personalities. But just because I didn’t like everything about them doesn’t mean they aren’t real or well constructed.
Ed Helms is making quite a name for himself, and this film was in development before “The Hangover” hit big. His biggest challenge in the coming years is to play something that isn’t just a rehash of Andy Bernard from “The Office” or Stu from “The Hangover.” But until then, “Cedar Rapids” is fortunately still fresh.
There’s a nice assortment of special features on this disc, including a slate of deleted scenes and a gag reel. Several featurettes are also available which look at the making of the film. These are “Convention Connection,” “Mike O’Malley – Urban Clogger,” “Tweaking in the USA” and “Wedding Belles – Crashing a Lesbian Wedding.
There’s also two Fox Movie Channel features, spotlighting director Miguel Arteta and writer Phil Johnston. Finally, there’s a purposely awkward long-form commercial for Lippey’s Top Notch Insurance, which is pretty cute.
The Blu-ray set also comes with a second disc with Digital Copy features.
WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
Fans of awkward yet heartfelt independent comedies.