Saw Cedar Rapids yesterday. The movie is decent, in all senses of the word, and by being decent it stands out in the crowd. The filmmakers and star Ed Helms do a fine job with the lead character of not being too condescending to him, even though he is a stereotype of the Midwestern rube. It helps that Helms and the filmmakers seem to like the guy they created, and it also helps that the movie is populated with other people from the Midwest, both big towns and small, that do not conform to the same Midwestern stereotypes.
The movie really lights up, and reaches its most hilarious zeniths, with John C. Reilly on the screen. Reilly jumps with both feet into his role as the obnoxious life/instigator of the party (but seemingly with a heart of gold). Reilly is able to walk the razor’s edge, making the audience wonder throughout if his character is going to end up being good or evil. It takes a wonderful actor and performer to be able to make an audience laugh at fart jokes while at the same time conveying to the audience the underlying pain and loneliness of the guy. I’m not sure if Reilly’s character is terribly well resolved, but he does provide plenty of color and depth to the movie. Ann Heche, Isiah Whitlock, and Sigourney Weaver also merit special note.
There’s plenty to laugh about in Cedar Rapids. Thankfully, it lacks a mean spirit that could have ruined everything. It is well worth seeing.