Ed Helm is going to have a big year. Not only do we get to see more of his scene-stealing hilarity in The Office but we'll get to see a reunion of the boys from The Hangover as well. So, this little gem of a movie turned out to be a real surprise to me. It wasn't in the plotting, definitely not, because it went few places that weren't expected but it did manage to move at a brisk pace and all the while derive the biggest laughs from the characters themselves.
The film opens with our hero, Tim Lippe, talking to a prospective client. Insurance is his game, and honestly, he seems to be quite good at it. He's frank, down-to-Earth and everything that "salt of the Earth" Midwesterner should be. We quickly learn he is every bit as naive as one would come to believe as he soon delves deep into the depravity, fast living and downright absurdity that only an insurance awards convention in the seedy metropolis of Cedar Rapids can offer.
Helms breathes some real life into this character though there's definitely a bit of the Andy character from The Office in there somewhere. The components of a fish out of water tale are all here. He lives in his childhood home still, doesn't really excel in his career and is having an affair with one of his former middle school teachers (Sigourney Weaver). His arrival in Cedar Rapids has him meeting some of the local talent in a prostitute named Bree and being quite startled by an "Afro-American!" being in his room when he tries to open the door.
The infusion of the "Ronimal" (Isiah Whitlock Jr.), "Deanzie" (John C. Reilly), and The Fox (Anne Heche) only reinforce the rather well-traveled ground the script covers. We've got these downright absurd caricatures that hearts of gold but here writer Phil Johnston gets it right in letting Helms totally revel in cluelessness while his new friends really take the lead. There are few unexpected turns, but most of it goes according to plan. That said the script is strong nonetheless and the performances are very strong overall. Helms really showed here that he can, indeed, be a leading man. Reilly is, well, just damn funny here and definitely makes this film the better for his presence.
Overall? A genuinely funny and raunchy comedy that actually manages to not lose itself in the R-rated material. Real heart here. Strong performances all around. Definitely worth seeing.