“Cedar Rapids” – 2011. Dir. Miguel Arteta


With Ed Helms, John C. Reilly, Anne Heche, Isiah Whitlock, Jr., Stephen Root with Kurtwood Smith and Sigourney Weaver

Produced by Alexander Payne

“You look like R2-D2”


I haven’t been on here for a while. But I’m back in black. I’ve said it before, and I’ll probably say it again – remember when John C. Reilly was a good actor? Well in the small Alexander Payne/John Hughes feeling comedy – Reilly is excellent.

Ed Helms plays a hybrid of Andy from “The Office” and Stu from “The Hangover” – he basically plays the same square character that he always has. He’s fallen into a typecast, but it’s a typecast that he thrives on. He is Tim Lippe, a small town insurance agent who has just been thrown into a conference in Cedar Rapids. His boss (Stephen Root) warns him to steer clear of Dean Zeigler (John C. Reilly). As you can imagine, it doesn’t.

Basically the film takes Tim from his suburban, square and boring life to “the time of his life” at Cedar Rapids. While the film is a vehicle for Helms, the film belongs to Reilly – and the film suffers remarkably when Reilly isn’t on camera (especially after we’re first introduced to him).

To me, “Cedar Rapids” is much like “Hangover” in the way that it feels like it could have been a comedy vehicle for Bill Murray and Steve Martin, or Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi. By saying John C. Reilly does his best Bill Murray impression isn’t giving enough credit to Reilly. But let’s just say, the role of Dean “Deanzee” Ziegler is a role that was made for Bill Murray (Deanzee is much like Big Ern), and John C. Reilly does an amazing job with the role.

Anne Heche is a nice addition to the film, she does a fine job. For once I actually enjoy watching Sigourney Weaver again. She plays Tim’s grade school teacher who he is now having a relationship with. And Isiah Whitlock, Jr. plays the “white” black guy (ala Cleveland) who references HBO’s “The Wire” twice – which Whitlock was on for about twenty five episodes.

There isn’t a lot to say about this film. It’s funny, takes itself a little too serious at times, but lags when the camera isn’t on Reilly. But I think you’ll find this to be an enjoyable little comedy even though this film feels like it could have been Alexander Payne’s student film.

Rating: 7/10

Author: Frank Mengarelli

Everybody relax, Frank's here. After going to film school at Columbia College Chicago, Frank decided to underachieve with his vast knowledge of film into a career in civil service. Frank had a brief stint as a film blogger, and then he met the heterosexual love of his life, Nick Clement. The two instantly bonded over their love from everything to Terence Malick to THE EXPENDABLES films. Some of Frank's favorite filmmakers are Terence Malick, Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, Sylvester Stallone, Oliver Stone and Spike Lee. Some of his favorite films are THE TREE OF LIFE, STAR WARS (all of them), BAD LIEUTENANT, THE THING and ALL THAT JAZZ. Frank spends his free time with his dog Roger, collecting any Star Wars collectible he can find and trying to finish his pretentious, first person narrative novel(la), LARGE MEN IN SMALL CARS..

5 thoughts on ““Cedar Rapids” – 2011. Dir. Miguel Arteta”

  1. This was a solid and highly refreshing “guys behaving badly” comedy. Loved Helms as the lead, and I wish Whitlock was more present too– his Omar Little reference is killer even if you’re not a huge Wire aficionado. For me what really made this work is how the film embraces rather than derides the small town yokel mold that most of its principles fit into– laughing with them instead of at them.

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