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Let’s face selling insurance may be one of the most boring jobs ever. But Cedar Rapids proves that going to an insurance convention in Iowa may be the most fun a person has ever had in their life. Tim Lippe, played by Ed Helms, was born and breed in Brown Valley, Wisconsin. He spends his days selling insurance to all of the people in his town. He is not the star seller but does a pretty darn good job. Whether star seller does, Lippe must be the one to fill in for him at the annual convention held in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Little does he know, that this one trip will change his life for the good, the bad and the necessary.
Ed Helms, known mainly for his role in The Hangover, delivers a very funny performance in this movie. His character has never really been anywhere in his entire life. When he comes to Cedar Rapids he’s surprised at what is out there. Helms did a brilliant job of played that clueless out-of-towner.
Lippe is guided by three regulars to these conventions. The first one he meets is his roommate Ronald Wilkes, portrayed by Isaiah Whitlock, Jr., who is the first African-American he has ever met and the first friend he meets there. Whitlock’s performance was hilarious and very unexpected because most of his roles are supporting and not very-well noticed. Let’s hope we can see him in more roles like this.
Then there is the rival insurance salesman, Dean Ziegler played by John C. Reilly, who Lippe was given specific instructions to stay away from at the convention. Ziegler is nothing but trouble but shows Lippe how to loosen up. Reilly’s portrayal of this foul-mouthed, alcoholic is really nice to see after all of those Will Ferrell movies he had been doing for so long. Reilly’s outgoingness made this movie even more enjoyable.
Finally, there is Joan Ostrowski-Fox, played by Anne Heche. Not one of my favorite people, but her performance was really important because she brought out a new side of Tim Lippe that he never thought could be released. The film also has a great supporting cast including Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Root, Kurtwood Smith and Alia Shawkat. Since, this was an independent-type film the cast fit very well for the type of film that was given to them.
The film’s director Miguel Arteta, who previously did the Michael Cera comedy Youth in Revolt, showed his comedy range with this movie. Doing a teen comedy is funny but doing an adult comedy and making it much funnier than a teen comedy sure does say a lot about a director. He brought a new style to this genre by adding some real awkward scenes. One of which involves male back nudity. Now, while I’m sure it was not necessary this type of nudity is all for comedy and certainly made the scene memorable.
The film in itself is not very long, less than 90 minutes; while very short we are taken on this unbelievable journey. Helms at the beginning, is this sheltered, small-minded insurance salesman and at the end he is this ballsy, intelligent business man. It’s quite amazing to see how a character can develop in such a short amount of time. It’s is form the same studio who brought such comedies at Little Miss Sunshine and Juno, so expect that type of comedy. It’s that humor that can be a bit awkward at first but heart-warming at the end. That is what happens on this short trip to Cedar Rapids, Iowa.