“Cedar Rapids” shows big heart

Cedar Rapids shows big heart

Rachel Dinsmore, Multimedia Editor

“Cedar Rapids” finds a way to make insurance salesmen interesting and loveable.

Ed Helms stars in the new Sundance Film Festival favorite “Cedar Rapids.”  Helms plays Ted Lippy, the endearingly naïve and good-hearted insurance salesman who visits the big pond of Cedar Rapids.

It is here in Cedar Rapids for the annual AMSI insurance convention where Lippy meets his side-kicks for the week.  The infamous Dean Ziegler, played by John C. Reilly, is the crazy and wild friend who takes Ted under his wing and teaches him how to really let go.  Reilly gives an endearing but hysterical performance as the seeming party-boy haunted by the divorce from his wife. 

Kurtwood Wilson, known to all teenagers as Red on “That 70s Show,” brings his usual snarky humor. He pulls out a solid performance as the president of the ASMI convention and the person Ted must impress to win the coveted Two Diamonds.    

Lippy feels the pressure of the competition and eventually resorts to unsavory tactics.  But don’t worry, all works out in the end though I won’t tell you how.

The driving force of the movie is Ed Helms.  His perfect portrayal of Ted makes the character charmingly innocent. A great example of Ted’s character can be seen at his arrival in Cedar Rapids. 

When approached by the hotel prostitute Bree, he sweetly hands her a butterscotch instead of the cigarette she asks for.  As he walks away, Bree smiles in surprise.  Ted truly cares for everyone around him, strangers or not, which makes it impossible not to love him. 

“Cedar Rapids” is full of sexual and drug humor.  In one outrageous scene, Ted and his new friend Bree go to a party where they take at least three different kinds of hard drugs.  While drug use should be taken seriously, you cannot help but laugh at Ted’s naïve drug induced antics. 

“Cedar Rapids” somehow manages to blend heart-warming characters with the vulgar comedy of an R-rated movie.  Helms’ shy and unsure introduction to the real world is something everyone can relate to.  He handles new situations with awkwardness but still retains his unwavering good heart.

As Ted puts in it the movie, “Insurance salesmen are like superheroes.”  While this may or may not be true, “Cedar Rapids” does a stellar job of making insurance and its salesmen lovable and engaging. 

Rachel Dinsmore is a multimedia editor for jcpatriot.com.