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Cedar Rapids (15)

The ViewBristol Review

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Review byMatthew Turner28/04/2011

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 97 mins

Sharply written and astutely directed, this is an enjoyable, frequently funny comedy with likeable characters and great comic performances from a superb cast.

What's it all about?
Directed by Miguel Arteta, Cedar Rapids stars Ed Helms as naïve 30-something insurance salesman Tim Lippe, who has never left small-town Brown Valley, Wisconsin and is in love with his 7th grade teacher (Sigourney Weaver), having not quite grasped that she's just using him for sex. When his company's star salesman dies in an unfortunate accident, Tim's boss (Stephen Root) sends him to an insurance convention in Cedar Rapids and asks him to suck up to insurance president Orin (Kurtwood Smith) in order to win the coveted Two Diamonds status for the company.

Over the course of the weekend, Tim's wide-eyed innocence takes a bit of a battering as he has his eyes opened to the ways of the world. This is largely thanks to the debauched antics of his fellow insurance agents, including party animal Dean (John C Reilly), married-but-aggressively-available Joan (Anne Heche) and nice guy Ronald (Isiah Whitlock Jr), not to mention a friendly young woman (Alia Shawkat) that Tim doesn't realise is a prostitute.

The Good
Helms has been a consistently hilarious supporting player in things like The Hangover and the US version of The Office, so it's a treat to see him handed a decent lead role where he duly steps up to the plate, delivering a likeable, sweet-natured performance that ensures that Tim remains sympathetic, even while his hopeless naivety makes him do cringe-worthy things (his phone conversations with Weaver's character are truly excruciating).

There's also terrific comic support from John C Reilly (fast becoming one of Hollywood's funniest actors), whose character, pleasingly, doesn't pan out quite the way you expect. Similarly, Anne Heche is both sexy and funny as Joan, while Whitlock gets some scene-stealing moments of his own, particularly if you're a fan of HBO's The Wire.

The Great
Miguel Arteta has quietly made a name for himself as a reliable director of edgy, offbeat and occasionally dark comedies (Chuck & Buck, Youth in Revolt) and he's on fine form here, orchestrating several painfully funny scenes, such as Tim's encounter with a naked Orin in the hotel gym. At the same time, the film has a subtle but effective message about finding your own way in life, that works well.

Worth seeing?
Well directed and consistently funny, Cedar Rapids is an extremely enjoyable comedy with a wonderful comic cast. Recommended.

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Content updated: 02/05/2011 17:20

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