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.