There’s nothing really wrong with Cedar Rapids. It’s a fine little story with a fine little cast doing a fine little job with the material. But the film itself just doesn’t seem to have much reason for being. It’s sort of Up In the Air meets The Hangover meets The 40 Year Old Virgin. It’s occasionally funny, occasionally sweet, and occasionally quirky… but not enough of any of those things to make it particularly memorable.
Ed Helms (The Daily Show, The Office, The Hangover) plays Tim Lippe, a well-meaning but very naive small-town insurance salesman from Wisconsin who gets his first taste of the “big city” when he’s sent to an annual insurance convention in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. With his cummerbund money belt, traveler’s checks, and old-school luggage, it’s clear from the get-go that Tim has a lot to learn about the modern world – not to mention the business convention “protocol” of parties, politics and hook-ups. Lucky for him, there’s a trio of conference veterans (played by John C. Reilly, Anne Heche and Isiah Whitlock, Jr.) who take Tim under their wing and teach him how to loosen up and have fun. After all, what happens in Cedar Rapids stays in Cedar Rapids.
The plot thickens, however, when Tim’s innocence and enthusiasm are shattered by revelations of corporate corruption. His new pals must then band together to try and make things right for Tim and bring some integrity back to the insurance industry (cue the sarcasm and cynicism)!
Sigourney Weaver appears briefly in the film as Tim’s former seventh-grade teacher and current pseudo-girlfriend (in a maternal/Mrs. Robinson sort of way). Her character basically exists to underscore Tim’s child-like naïveté, which comes across as sweet, sincere, and kinda lame.
I suspect that Cedar Rapids will have a tough time finding an audience. It’s fine. Its heart is in the right place. And anyone familiar with the rituals of a business convention at a three-star hotel will likely get an extra chuckle or two out of it. But for the most part, the movie simply fails to inspire any reaction one way or another. Wait for the DVD or catch it on a plane en route to that business convention in [pick your city].