“Cedar Rapids” caught me by surprise. How was this movie not more of a box office hit? It is hilarious! It blends everything that people seem to be loving about R rated comedies these days. Group of middle aged guys who party, drink, hit on younger girls and get in to trouble. But it is a lot more then just that.
Tim Lippe (Ed Helms) is a very naive and idealistic insurance agent who lives in a very small town. He has led an overly sheltered life. He is having regular sex with one of his former high school teachers. He seems to think they are in a steady relationship but she is just in it for the sex. The teacher is played by Sigourney Weaver, who has very little screen time, but makes a delicious impression.
Lippe works for Brownstar Insurance and finds himself being sent to a regional conference in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He is sent in place of his idol, Roger Lemke, a fellow agent who recently died in an auto-erotic asphyxiation accident. Tim believes his death was unfortunate and refuses to be taken in by the idea that Roger is anything but decent, honest and most importantly, a good Christian.
Once Lippe arrives at the conference he meets Joan (Anne Heche), Ronald (Isiah Whitlock Jr.) and the infamous Dean Ziegler (John C. Reilly). Together they form an instant group friendship which is believable. They all have the personality types of people would normally gravitate to one another. Gradually Lippe comes out of his shell and does some things he never dreamed he would do.
The story was written by first timer Phil Johnston. His work has been mostly for television so far. Here he supplies us with characters that are not original in the slightest but instead of making them one note funny, they each have depth and a realistic background. When each has their turn at an honest moment, they all deliver.
The director is Miguel Arteta, who is not a first timer. He has not been noticed by the mainstream yet but with a resume that includes “The Good Girl”, “Youth In Revolt” and now “Cedar Rapids”, it is only a matter of time.