Thursday, 9 June 2011

REVIEW: Cedar Rapids

Ed Helms plays a strange version of Andy Bernard as his nice-guy-puppy-dog-eyes routine gets a bit old ...

This is a strange mix of director Arteta's usual melancholia drowned in existentialist comedy (The Good Girl, Youth In Revolt) with the upbeat frat-pack style type of humour. It makes for a slightly unsettling and uncomfortable viewing experience that leaves you wondering what you've just watched.

The story goes that Ed Helms' character Tim is a small-town guy selling insurance taking his first trip to an insurance do at Cedar Rapids. It soon becomes a tale of self-discovery as he starts learning to let loose and have a grander view of the world. This is done with the help of some friends along the way, namely John C Reilly doing his best Will Ferrell impression (that seems to be his idol after all), The Wire's Isiah Whitlock Jr (who actually references and even quotes The Wire), and lesbian Anne Heche who I swear hasn't done anything for ages. Tim is in love with his ex-school teacher that he's shagging (a remarkably good looking Sigourney Weaver) in a rather Oedipal way but his backward, conservative, rather sweet view of the world becomes corrupted when he loses his innocence in different, humorous ways.

Ed Helms is at his best here when he's let loose but the real star is Reilly who is clearly enjoying his role as a loud mouth, egotistical, brash salesman who doesn't care what people think of him. Along the way he has to win some award and Tim's fragile view of the world is shattered, there's some type of redemption here and salvation, but overall it becomes a strange sequence of events about people I neither care about nor believe exist. Tim's 'Aw shucks' naivety becomes grating and the jokes are few and far between. However, there are some great moments and memorable quotes and the idea of Cedar Rapids as some kind of Shangri La or, in more obvious terms, the city of Sodom in a more toned down fashion, is quite humorous.

It's rather slow with a few laugh out loud moments but it cannot save it from the rather drab, confusing and partially irritating feel of it all. Am I supposed to be grossed out? Am I supposed to be moved? Am I supposed to laugh here? A good ninety minutes where I wasn't bored, but not enough here that gets deep enough, or gets me laughing enough to justify a higher mark. Average at best.

Rating: 6/10

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