Hey guys, things are hoppin' on that sidebar over yonder. Only three followers away from a hundred!!! And a mere ONE away from two hundred followers on Facebook!! (I know it says 200 there now, but on the actual fan page it says 199, I have no idea why that is) and the NetworkedBlogs thingy keeps switching between 99 and 100 so ya know, exciting times....oh who am I kidding? I am nothing if not a whore for attention.
BUG YOUR FRIENDS, ANNOY YOUR FAMILY AND TRAWL THE BLOGOSPHERE FOR RECRUITMENT INTO THE SUGARY CYNICISM FANDOM. I AM SO CLOSE TO A HUNDRED I CAN TASTE IT. IT TASTES LIKE PASTA. ALTHOUGH THAT MAY HAVE BEEN THE PASTA I HAD EARLIER. WHO CAN SAY? (ALSO ONLY ONE MORE PERSON IS NEEDED FOR THE FACEBOOK FAN PAGE SO IF YOU'VE BEEN HOLDIN' OUT, NOW'S THE TIME, JUST SAYIN)
So yeah, you know it's not hard to make a good comedy. Make some good characters, put them in silly situations, watch them react, etc. The issue is that generally the characters are not well-written, the story is iffy, and so on, so in order to make with the funny, the situation has to be wildly over the top to compensate. Like in The Hangover.
And don't get me wrong, I liked The Hangover and it was funny, but you can really only watch it once. The novelty is in the insane situations the characters find themselves in and once the surprise of "ohmygod what could happen next?" wears off, well, there's not much point in continuing forward.
So this is where Cedar Rapids is different. It plucks Ed Helms from The Hangover, recasts him as Tim Lippe, incredibly naive and guileless insurance salesman from Generic Small Town, Wisconsin and plops him in what would appear to be the uncompromisingly dull situation of an insurance conference at the Cedar Rapids Hotel.
Of course, the "how" he got there is fairly bizarre: The senior manager dude who usually goes to the insurance conference dies from auto-erotic asphyxiation, leaving Tim's boss, the Stapler Guy from Office Space, no choice but to send Tim to the conference to try to win the coveted Two Diamond Award and clear away the unwanted stench of masturbatory suicide from the company name.
So there's that.
Anyway, Stapler Guy gives Tim two very important instructions. One: make the best impression possible on the conference president, Red Foreman from That Seventies Show:
and two, stay the hell away from Dean Ziegler, played by John C. Reilly.
Anywhoo, that one flies out the window when sheltered little Tim gets Dean as a roommate, along with the adorably straight-laced Ronald Wilkes, played by Isiah Whitlock Jr. Almost instantly, the wildly crass, foul-mouthed Dean commences in corrupting Tim, getting him to drink *gasp* alcohol! And *oh my stars* frolicking in the hotel pool after hours! All to the chagrin of President Eric Foreman's Dad, who wants to make the insurance conference all squeaky clean and Jesus-like. Oh and Anne Heche is there too, as Joan Ostrowski-Fox, better known as O-Fox. Joan's sweet but just a little too peppy and "one of the guys" cuz she's all excited to not be at home with her overbearing husband. So Dean, Ronald, Joan and Tim engage in such antics as the ones mentioned above, and slightly more, such as rescuing Tim from a house party he goes to with a hooker where he does weed for the first time.
So basically, there's no tigers or Mike Tyson so for it to be funny, a lot is riding on the characters. Ed Helms proves he has what it takes to be a leading man with Tim. He's small-town and painfully oblivious to things, like that the hooker chick is in fact a hooker. And also his only adult relationship is with his former elementary school teacher (played by a brief but so funny Sigourney Weaver). There are sometimes when he's so stupid it stretches credulity, but others, like when he explains why he decided to be an insurance salesman, that are genuine and sweet.
And that's kind of how the movie is. It's not all that raunchy, mostly just in the language (everything John C. Reilly says is AMAZING), and the characters feel like real people, Joan just wants to escape, Dean acts out partially to hide his hurt at his wife's divorce from him, and Ronald, well, Ronald's just adorable. And he does a pretty convincing Omar from HBO's The Wire:
Anyway, there's a whole subplot about the Two Diamond Award and whatnot but that's not important. Here's a good comedy with actual rewatch value that puts it's strengths not in the over-the-top situations, but the characters in them. Everyone pulls their weight humor-wise, though I always love John C. Reilly in whatever he does, and Anne Heche is almost good enough to make you forget she once claimed to be a lesbian alien named Celestia. Almost.
It's not laugh-out-loud-oh-sweet-jesus-I-peed, but you'll be smiling throughout and it's nice to when someone proves you don't have to tackled by a naked Asian man to be funny. Not that it hurts. Cedar Rapids insures three and a half catapults out of five.
This is Sugary Cynic, who remains steadfastly unimpressed by The Hangover 2 trailer. 'Night!
(When Tim opens his hotel room door and Ronald is standing there)
Tim: (on the phone with his girlfriend) "There's an Afro-American man standing in front of me"
Macy: "What's he doing?"
Tim: "He's...smiling at me. I think he's friendly!"