State of Rapid Change
Cedar Rapids - 2011
Written by Phil Johnson
Directed by Miguel Arteta
In a sentence never uttered before in human history; Cedar Rapids is fast becoming my new "happy place." Not the city, mind you, but the film. It has joined the ranks of Wonder Boys and Almost Famous as one of my comfort comedies. Like those films, Cedar Rapids is filled with beautifully flawed human characters crashing into each others' lives and coming out something new.
Throughout the weekend, each of the characters gets an opportunity to defy expectations. Well, maybe not Bree (who, one must admit, exists primarily as a plot device), although she does bail on a potentially profitable convention night to take Tim to house party, but the four insurance agents each get at least one scene to play against character.
The movie is packed with rock-solid character actors. Beyond Helms, Reilly, Heche, Whitlock, Shawkat and Weaver, Stephen Root (News Radio) and Kurtwood Smith (Robocop, That 70s Show) represent Tim's rock-and-a-hard-place. Tom Lennon and Rob Corddry both appear in almost cameo roles, but Lennon's character -- and the seamy circumstances of his death early in the film -- thread through much of what happens later.
Cedar Rapids never resorts to the squirmy Comedy of Discomfort that has become the trend in "edgy" and "indy" comedy. There's shame and embarrassment aplenty, but it's the result of Tim's earnestness coming into conflict with the big nasty world. He doesn't always do the right things, but he does the wrong things for the right reasons. His pains are growing pains, and his weekend of confronting his own fears and misconceptions about the world and the wild ride that ensues turn out to be one of those life-changing experiences that strike from out of the blue when we venture beyond the fields we know.