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Cedar Rapids

  • Film
  • 3 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars
More man-child high-jinks in a comedy which seems to be looking down its nose at smalltown America’s terminally unhip, but proves good-hearted and delivers enough laughter to seal the deal. Initially, it’s easy to resist leading man Ed Helms (pictured; the dorky one from ‘The Hangover’), whose aw-shucks innocence as a Wisconsin insurance salesman falls between contrived and implausible. As the scene shifts to Cedar Rapids – which passes for a metropolis in these parts – his graceless protagonist is seriously underequipped to deliver a crucial presentation at the American Society of Mutual Insurance (ASMI) convention. Naturally, he’ll have to grow up fast over the next few days, but the movie’s trump card is the cast of fellow road warriors who’ll help him do so, namely John C Reilly’s loudmouth ASMI malcontent, Anne Heche’s misbehaving hockey mom and seemingly uptight African-American Isiah Whitlock Jr (who has hidden depths of his own).

This trio of absolutely spot-on comic performances kick in as the movie’s hilarious mid-section rocks Helms’s cautiously circumscribed world, opening new horizons of alcoholic and narcotic intoxication, social interaction and commitment-free fornication. If poking fun at America’s knitwear-clad heartlands feels too easy, the suggestion that the road to enlightenment passes by shit-faced shagging in a hotel swimming pool is a winning one, while the agenda of showing that traditional community values need not be a straitjacket fits comfortably with the filmography of producers Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor (‘Election’, ‘Sideways’) – whose own films break down characters’ fears of moving beyond their comfort zone. Certainly, Phil Johnston’s screenplay reverts to over-familiar type in completing Helms’s learning curve, but its compliment of zingy dialogue and memorable hang-loose characters undoubtedly sends us out smiling.
Written by Trevor Johnston

Release Details

  • Rated:15
  • Release date:Friday 29 April 2011
  • Duration:87 mins

Cast and crew

  • Director:Miguel Arteta
  • Cast:
    • Ed Helms
    • John C Reilly
    • Anne Heche
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