Plot Summary: Tim Lippe, small town insurance agent, finds the quest for greatness and integrity a challenge during his first industry conference in Cedar Rapids. Tim needs to bring home to “Two Diamond” award and encounters hurdles in form of a bombastic rival agent (John C. Reilly), scaly and self-righteous manager, a married, but alluring female insurance agent, his pushy boss, and a small town prostitute. Straight-laced Tim strays in glorious fashion, but finds and clarifies his purpose and forms a group of lasting friends.
Likes: This film has many lasting charms, while delivering a lot of laughs. Ed Helms, who plays great wing-men and side eccentric characters, gives a great leading comedic performance. He almost perfectly balances the small-town wholesome guy with the sheltered man-child getting his first brushes with lust and danger.
Tim’s immaturity comes out in an early romantic relationship with his former elementary school teacher played by Sigourney Weaver. Weaver’s character Macy is simply looking for a good time after her divorce, but Tim remains the kid with a crush getting to live out his adolescent fantasy. We see Tim grow up through Anne Heche’s character Joan who befriends Tim and becomes his first adult relationship. Heche is a welcome presence: funny, sympathetic, and sweet.
For the laughs, John C. Reilly gives a big, broad performance that delights in gross out humor and witty comebacks, but develops into a heartwarming friend and sidekick to Tim. I loved Isiah Whitlock Jr. (Clay Davis from THE WIRE) as Tim’s roommate at the hotel. Whitlock plays sophisticated without being a snob and subtly conveys that his hopes for the “Two Diamond” award are even higher than Tim’s. He also gives WIRE fans some great lines.
In all, taking the trip to CEDAR RAPIDS will make for an entertaining night. The surprise will be how these characters sneak up on you and their stories bring smiles to your face long after the movie ends.