Director Miguel Arteta is something of a Sundance darling, considering most of his previous films have played at previous Sundance festivals, so it’s no surprise that he has returned here to premiere his new insurance comedy, Cedar Rapids. Starring the always delightful Ed Helms of The Office fame (Mr. Andy Bernard) alongside comedic heavyweight John C. Reilly and a delightful supporting cast including Anne Heche, Alia Shawkat and Isiah Whitlock Jr. of the The Wire fame (there are 3 amazingly hilarious references to the show had the audiences and myself in stitches). Utilizing his cast to the fullest, Arteta delivers a highly enjoyable comedy that is filled with laughs and heart.
The story centers on Tim Lippe, a naive insurance salesmen from the Midwest who lives a simple and quaint life, dating his divorced high school teacher (Sigourney Weaver). All that changes when the lead salesman Roger Lemke (Thomas Lennon), prompting Lippe to spearhead a presentation at an annual insurance conference in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. However, Lippe has never left his hometown so when he arrives at the conference with the pressure to win the coveted double diamond award, he needs guidance and finds it from three convention veterans.
John C. Reilly steals nearly every scene he’s in, as the devilish Dean Ziegler, who shoots off hilarious one-liners every chance he gets. Helms is able to lead the film as Lippe, whose transformation from naive conservative to risk taking salesman is genuine and tinted with his trademark humorous style. And while the film feels like something Will Ferrell would produce, it still has moments of sincerity that make it stand apart from the typical slapstick fare. Cedar Rapids is a great film if your in the mood for some light hearted comedy that also delivers some heartfelt emotion.