Opening 7 Jul 2011
Writing credits: Phil Johnston
Principal actors: Ed Helms, John C. Reilly, Anne Heche, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Stephen Root
Cedar Rapids is in the U.S. state of Iowa, not far from my own home town in Missouri. As long as I can remember, Cedar Rapids has been the butt of jokes about nerdy backwardness. Director Miguel Arteta carries this idea to extremes in the assumption that we will find it amusing for 87 minutes. Tim Lippe (Ed Helms) is an insurance salesman in teeny Brown Valley, Wisconsin. His boss sends him to an insurance convention in the big city of Cedar Rapids (real-life population is about 127,000). Ed expects the worst, especially after he learns that he will share a room with African-American Ronald (Isiah Witlock, Jr) and notorious competitor Dean (John C. Reilly). Considering that Tim has been having an on-going affair with his former seventh-grade teacher, he isn’t completely innocent. It doesn’t take much persuasion for him to plunge wholeheartedly into sex, drink, and drugs, as well as hotel living, credit cards, and flying. After all, they “are all just trying to sell something.” He survives all repercussions and hassles, including having to sing “O Holy Night” before an audience, which he actually does very well.
Sigourney Weaver is always a special treat, no matter how small her role, and here she is, once again, excellent as the school teacher. Ann Arbor, Michigan, was the actual film site, although some shots were made in Cedar Rapids. The theme is similar to the film Arthur; both are about naïve young men who grow up quickly to become better people. Often the best shots are during the end-of-film credits (e.g., Hangover 2, which showed, in retrospect, events which had occurred during the drunken blackout). In Cedar Rapids, the shots during the credits show how creative and successful Phil actually becomes, after applying his experiences to improve his work back home. (Becky Tan)