[pullquote cite=”” type=”left, right”][amazon text=Amazon&template=carousel&chan=That Film Guy&asin=B0058HZTO2][/pullquote] Pardon my French, but you are full of bull-horn! comes the response from Cedar Rapids protagonist Tim Lippe (Ed Helms), and it is this line which encapsulates the whole film. Strangely it’s a coming of age drama about a mid-30s insurance salesman who has to fill in for a deceased colleague at a convention in order to win the coveted ˜Two Diamonds’ award. On his travels he learns to ˜live’ with the help of his newly found gang of friends, an over-the-top obnoxious Dean ˜Deansy’ Ziegler (John C. Reilly), a straight-laced HBOs The Wire-loving Ronald Wilkes (HBOs The Wire’s own Isiah Whitlock Jr.) and a feisty, but loveable Joan Ostrowski-Fox (Anne Heche).
In Cedar Rapids, they get drunk, fall in love and try to bring a level of integrity to the insurance business that is sorely lacking in those in higher positions. The comedy is slightly off-the-wall and quiet (with the exception of Deansy), but its characters suit the film perfectly. Once you get past the cringey opening scenes where Tim confuses sex with a cougar (A brilliant Sigourney Weaver) with love and gets flustered when asked for a credit card by the hotel concierge, he becomes an incredibly likeable protagonist, and it proves more and more difficult not to cheer him on through a series of ludicrously escalating situations.
Miguel Arteta proves to be the master of quiet, unassuming comedy following on from the success of The Good Girl and Youth in Revolt, Cedar Rapids is an engaging, funny and a little silly. It has a definite link to his previous films and it would perhaps be interesting to see him branch out in his comedy style a little, but this is a good companion piece nonetheless.
At points Cedar Rapids seems like a who’s who of American comedians with cameos of recognisable faces peppered throughout, but the star of the show is Ed Helms, who proves once again that nobody plays the loveable loser quite like him. Similar to his character Stu from the Hangover Part 2 but without any of the social experience, Lippe is a truly engaging, if sometimes unbelievable character and a great lynchpin to an understated comedy.