REVIEW: Cedar Rapids

22 06 2011

I don’t know if you have any romanticized notions about how bloggers watch movies outside of theaters, but let me dispel just about all of them right now.  Be it through Netflix, iTunes, Redbox, Blockbuster, or basic cable, watching movies is usually just us sitting in front of some sort of screen (and in rare cases, we can manage to net a friend or family member if the movie has wide appeal).  We generally just plop, watch, and write, sharing our opinions not verbally with the person we endured the movie with but digitally with people who read our site or happen to accidentally wind up here after Googling “did the kings speech win any oscars?”

This method of movie watching inevitably favors one genre and shorts another.  It’s easy to love a drama you watch at home because it’s hardly different than watching in the theater – that is, the audience is mostly silent for the duration of the movie.  It’s hard to love a comedy because you have no one’s reaction but your own to measure as audience laughter has a significant impact on how we perceive the humor of a movie.  Plus, no one really likes to laugh by themselves.

So when I come across a movie that can make me laugh while I’m curled up alone underneath my bed sheets, I rejoice!  Ladies and gentleman, “Cedar Rapids” is one of those movies.  Sure, it may be hopelessly pathetic and wallow in endless jokes of naïveté, but it’s actually funny!  I laughed!  A lot!  In bed!  Seriously, that doesn’t happen very often at all!

Ed Helms, best known as Andy Bernard from “The Office” and Stu from “The Hangover,” stars as Tim Lippe, the insular Wisconsin insurance salesman who gets a chance to go to the titular metropolis representing his company.  There, he is exposed to the dangers and pleasures of true urban living and meets an exciting cast of characters including the crude Dean Ziegler (John C. Reilly), mild-mannered Ronald Wilkes (Isiah Whitlock Jr.), good-natured Joan Ostrowski-Fox (Anne Heche), and the prostitute with the heart of gold Bree (Alia Shawkat in the first role of its kind likely to be snubbed by the Oscars).  Tim is totally clueless the entire movie, never really leaving his tighty-whitie turtle shell of ignorance.  But even the cheap laughs work here, and my reactions ranged from chuckles to belly laughs.  So what are you waiting on, book a trip to “Cedar Rapids” and enjoy comedy that can illicit a verbal reaction from you in the comfort of your own home.  Humor me.  (It’s also alright to laugh at the pun.)  B+ / 





What To Look Forward To in … February 2011

9 01 2011

February comes, and with it the Oscars to celebrate 2010 in cinema!  Here are some movies I doubt we will be toasting this time in 2012.

February 4

“Sanctum” looks like a movie worth the price of 3D.  No stars and a somewhat enticing plot could make for a great experience.  Oh, and having James Cameron’s name in the trailer helps.

The Roommate” could make a decent chunk of change since it has teen stars Aly Michalka, Leighton Meester, Minka Kelly, and Cam Gigandet to its name.  How good or thrilling it will be really can’t be deduced from the trailer – and maybe it’s not something I want to see heading off to college next year.

Thanks to a qualifying run, Halle Berry’s “Frankie & Alice” is eligible for 2010’s awards and has so far racked up a Golden Globe nomination.  That’s been about it for the previous winner, and an Oscar nod doesn’t look likely.  But if she does get it, there could be quite a few people flocking to this curious drama about a woman with multiple personality syndrome.

Speaking of Oscar nominations, Natalie Portman is almost certain to receive one for “Black Swan,” but her movies don’t stop there.  In addition to “No Strings Attached” coming out in January, she has “The Other Woman,” a 2009 Toronto Film Festival hit, being released theatrically.  (It’s also available on demand beginning in January.)

Also not likely to be hitting a theater near you: “Cold Weather,” a detective film that played 2010 SXSW, “Dressed,” a fashion documentary, and “Waiting for Forever,” a romance featuring Rachel Bilson.

February 11

Forget the birds in Arkansas falling.  If you are looking for a sign of the apocalypse, look no further than “Justin Bieber: Never Say Never” in pointless 3D (as if you needed any indication that Paramount is soaking the Bieber cow for all the money its worth).  If it does well, you may find yourself with me wishing the apocalypse would come a little sooner.

The Eagle” sure doesn’t look much better as it’s just wannabe “Gladiator” period action fading into white noise.  Poor Channing Tatum managed to lose top billing to Jamie Bell in the trailer; maybe they chose only to advertise someone with acting skills.  “Gnomeo and Juliet” could be OK; at least we haven’t seen a million talking lawn gnome movies.

Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston sure didn’t have a good 2010; his “Grown Ups” and her “The Bounty Hunter” both charted on my 10 worst of the year.  So I guess when two fading stars cross each other’s paths, nothing good can come of it?  Their collaboration on “Just Go With It” seems pretty contrived.  I’ll see it, of course, in the hopes of finding a laugh or two.  Maybe Nicole Kidman can save this, just hopefully not at the expense of her Oscar campaign.

On the indie side of things, “Cedar Rapids” sure looks promising.  A fish-out-of-water comedy involving Ed Helms’ small-town boy getting into trouble in the booming metropolis of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the movie seems like a perfect foil for Sandler’s comedy.  With John C. Reilly, Sigourney Weaver, and Rob Corddry on board, I’m really looking forward to this.

February 18

Thankfully for “Just Go With It,” there will probably be a much worse comedy released in February, and it comes dressed in drag and a fat suit.  “Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son” is a sequel that no one wanted, and it quite frankly looks like something meant to go straight to DVD.

Meanwhile, “I Am Number Four” is so cryptic and based on such a strange premise that I have a hard time getting excited to see it.  I’ll have to wait for audience and critical reactions before I can seriously consider shelling out my money for it.  If it hits big, though, Alex Pettyfer could have a nice breakout 2011.

“Unknown,” a new Liam Neeson thriller, looks like something I’ve seen before.  But at the same time, it looks thrilling and entertaining.

On the indie side of the coin, there’s “I Am” for all those who like Christian movies.  The movie is about the true nature of God, something that could be quite powerful for many people of faith – as long as they can find a theater that will show the movie.

February 25

Or, who knows, “Hall Pass” could be the worst comedy of February!  An Owen Wilson/Jason Sudeikis pairing seems inspired, but when they debate whether to pick up women at Applebee’s or Olive Garden, I’m worried that it’s going to be horrifically pathetic.

The enigma that is Nicolas Cage is back with “Drive Angry” as a dude who breaks out of hell.  It’s stranger, though, than Julianne Moore’s venture back into horror with “Shelter,” a creepy sci-fi thriller with Jonathan Rhys-Meyers doing some weird stuff with his mouth.

There’s no trailer yet for “Of Gods and Men,” but it’s been a big fixture among critics groups as a pick for Best Foreign Language Film.  I’d love to see some of it, but the clips are all in French.

So, that’s February!  What are YOU looking forward to?!?  As always, take the poll and comment!