Entertainment

Review: 'Cedar Rapids,' where Ed Helms becomes a movie star

*** (out of four)

Small-town Wisconsin insurance salesman Tim Lippe (Ed Helms) takes his first-ever plane ride to an annual conference in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where he’s expected to maintain his company’s status as a Two-Diamond award-winner. Tim’s out of his comfort zone, though, and falls in with overzealous loudmouth Dean (John C. Reilly), soft-spoken but social fan of “The Wire” Ronald (Isiah Whitlock Jr. of “The Wire,” ha) and flirtatious mother-of-two Joan (Anne Heche), who sees Cedar Rapids the way most people see Vegas.

The buzz: Director Miguel Arteta would do well to reel in the sloppiness of his last effort, “Youth in Revolt.” Regardless, it’s great to see Helms (“The Office,” “The Hangover”) being promoted to movie star.

The verdict: Tim’s never been anywhere or learned about himself, and “Cedar Rapids” provides an increasingly warm opportunity to watch an uptight guy discover what principles he’s willing to compromise and which ones aren’t up for debate. He begins as 50 percent personality; Dean’s 150 percent. Their always-amusing yin/yang (Reilly’s never been more brash yet irresistible) is a clinic in proving that first impressions aren’t always the right impressions. First-time screenwriter Phil Johnston sometimes works too hard to up the quirk factor in “Cedar Rapids,” but the grasp of its characters never wavers. This foursome has better, funnier chemistry than the gang in “The Hangover,” and Tim’s only known them for a couple days.

Did you know? Tim indicates that he doesn’t trust people with ponytails. Unfortunately he doesn’t explain the origin of that bias, but it might be more fun to guess.

mpais@tribune.com

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
Related Content
  • Best new movies
    Best new movies

    Reviews of recent favorites like 'Clouds of Sils Maria,' 'While We're Young,' 'Woman in Gold,' 'Insurgent,' 'It Follows,' 'The Hunting Ground,' 'Focus,' 'What We Do in the Shadows,' 4-star 'The Last Five Years,' 'McFarland, USA,' 'Girlhood,' 'Mommy,' 4-star 'A Most Violent Year,' 'American Sniper,'...

  • Good movies to rent now
    Good movies to rent now

    See what recent DVD releases are worth your time and money. Don't rent? Check out the newest movies to stream here.Want more? Discuss this article and others on RedEye's Facebook page. 

  • Worst new movies
    Worst new movies

    The recent awfulness we've seen, like 'The Squeeze,' 'The Longest Ride,' 'Get Hard,' 'Serena,' 'Cinderella,' 'Run All Night,' 'The Lazarus Effect,' 'Hot Tub Time Machine 2,' 'Fifty Shades of Grey,' 'Jupiter Ascending,' 'Seventh Son,' 'The Boy Next Door,' 'Blackhat,' 'Predestination,' 'Into the...

  • Hot Hollywood interviews
    Hot Hollywood interviews

    The most memorable quotes from our latest movie Q&As, including Nick Kroll, Michiel Huisman, Freida Pinto, Dan Savage, Joel McHale, Noah Baumbach, Veronica Roth, Margot Robbie, Bella Heathcote, Kevin Costner/Anthony Mackie, Sienna Miller, Emily Ratajkowski, David Oyelowo/Ava DuVernay, Eddie Redmayne,...

  • Shrug-worthy new movies
    Shrug-worthy new movies

    'Adult Beginners,' 'True Story,' 'Ex Machina,' 'Desert Dancer,' 'Furious 7,' '5 to 7,' 'Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief,' 'Danny Collins,' 'The Gunman,' ''71,' 'Maps to the Stars,' 'Bluebird,' 'The DUFF,' 'Kingsman: The Secret Service,' 'The Rewrite,' 'Black or White,' 'Black...

  • New study details downside of CTA's newest rail cars
    New study details downside of CTA's newest rail cars

    As the CTA moves cautiously toward picking its next-generation rail cars, a study published in a national research journal presents a painstakingly detailed account of how the transit agency went off the tracks when it selected the aisle-facing seat design on what’s known as the 5000 Series rail...

  • No bones about it, leashed dogs will be allowed on The 606
    No bones about it, leashed dogs will be allowed on The 606

    Leashed dogs will be allowed on The 606 park and trail system once it opens in June, unlike Chicago's popular downtown parks - Maggie Daley Park and neighboring Millennium Park.

  • Researchers warn of binge drinking by teens at Lollapalooza
    Researchers warn of binge drinking by teens at Lollapalooza

    Lollapalooza is known as much for its music as it is for costly park damage, outlandish happenings and surprise attendees.

Comments
Loading