Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Rapidly see CEDAR RAPIDS


Went out to see a movie this past weekend. Since it was a comedy, all of the previews were also comedies. The first was about two slackers on a road trip (only the 1000th time that premise has been used) who befriend an alien from outer space. Lots of car crashes, mayhem, tepid one-liners, and the alien speaking jive. Ha ha.  Then a movie about dufus husbands who are allowed a week off to have affairs. It’s directed by the Farrelly Brothers and the trailer is just a string of sex jokes, zany friends, tepid one-liners, and car crashes. And finally, Topher Grace trying to impress some hot girl complete with zany friends, sex jokes, loud party scenes, tepid one-liners, and yes, of course, car crashes.

I was one more trailer away from killing myself. But then, a wondrous thing occurred. A miracle. A divine act of God. How else could you describe it? There, on the screen, for all to see, was a comedy that was actually funny, with humor that grew out of the characters, and a real story, with people you cared about. Imagine a romantic comedy where not one airbag is deployed!

CEDAR RAPIDS is a wonderful little movie. And when it follows typical Hollywood comedy trailers, it gets elevated to the greatest motion picture of all-time.

I can’t recommend it enough. You won’t be rolling in the aisles; it’s not that kind of film. There’s subtlety instead of stunts, grown ups instead of borderline retards, and dialogue even wittier than, “Dude! What the fuck?!” But you will laugh, and you won’t hate yourself for what you're laughing at.

CEDAR RAPIDS stars Ed Helms as a real-life Ned Flanders who travels from a small town in Wisconsin to the angry metropolis of Cedar Rapids to attend an insurance convention. Over the course of the next few days his life is turned upside down, and every value he has will be tested. To me, that sounds more like a valid movie premise than two idiots join up with the Purple People Eater.

I don’t want to say anything more about the plot. Don’t want to give anything away.

I will however, say that everyone in this movie is perfectly cast. From Ed Helms (I’m a huge fan), Ann Heche (great range – can play funny and straight), Sigorney Weaver (best MILF role since Mrs. Robinson), Kurtwood Smith (the Gene Hackman of character actors), Isiah Whitlock Jr. (you could never tell from his work on THE WIRE that he had comic chops), and best of all, John C. Reilly. He is absolutely HILARIOUS in this movie. A breakout role if he hadn’t already broken out.

CEDAR RAPIDS. See it before they remake it with Russell Brand.

22 comments:

MATT said...

I think it may be worth knowing that Simon Pegg - co-writer and star of the alien-road trip bromance PAUL - also hates the trailer.

tls1974 said...

Saw 'Paul' on Monday. The film has a few cheesy moments but is a LOT better than than the trailer would suggest. Definitely worth a look.

Sarah said...

Saw a trailer for this during The Kings Speech a few weeks ago. When Isiah Whitlock came on screen, the first thing that went through my mind was "Shiiiiiiiiitttt."

John said...

I thought there was some sort of MPAA rule that all comedy trailers had to include either a joke about human body waste or someone getting hit in the groin? How'd this one get through?

Fraser said...

It may also be worth known that Simon Pegg co-wrote and starred in both Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead.

My hopes remain high.

John Alfenito said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
RCP said...

"...to the angry metropolis of Cedar Rapids..."

Thank you for this morning's hearty laugh!

jbryant said...

I'm with Fraser, especially since PAUL is directed by Greg Mottola, who did SUPERBAD and ADVENTURELAND. Thus far, Simon Pegg and company have shown a real affinity for finding fresh comedy in genre parody, going all the way back to the TV series SPACED, so I'll be surprised if PAUL is a dud, regardless of the trailer. (Sigourney Weaver has a cameo in the film, too, though probably not as a MILF.)

doggans said...

Count me in among those excited for "Paul", despite your annoyance with the trailer. "Spaced" is one of the greatest TV shows of all time, and "Shaun of the Dead" and "Hot Fuzz" are among my favorite movies. I'd probably be entertained watching Simon Pegg and Nick Frost chatting about gardening for two hours.

Mark said...

Shows what I know. I thought Gene Hackman was the Gene Hackman of character actors.

Janet T said...

I'd probably be entertained watching Simon Pegg and Nick Frost chatting about gardening for two hours.
- Doggans-

you say this like talking about gardening is akin to watching paint dry.....?

Anonymous said...

Love, but I don't live in a selected city.

JP

Mac said...

This is exciting news - I'm looking forward to Cedar Rapids. I thought the trailer (which can be deceptive obviously) looked like a blessed relief after Russell Brand's atrocity, and Paul. I've never found Pegg/Frost remotely funny, but for those that do, this film's been getting mostly positive reviews. So (subjectivity apart) it looks like it is a really bad trailer.
I've always found John C. Reilly funny but never seen him in anything where he really took off, except for some Funny Or Die shorts. As you say, if he hasn't already arrived, this could be it!

Anonymous said...

Trailer aside (which I haven't seen), I'm willing to bet Simon Pegg/Greg Mottolla's PAUL turns out WAY better and funnier than MANNEQUIN: ON THE MOVE...

Anonymous said...

Actually, based on Isaiah Witlock's performance in "The Wire" you could totally see he had great comedy chops.

Ed Reardon said...

You had me at 'Russell Brand'

Scott from H.C. said...

I really enjoyed Cedar Rapids as well, Ken. You described it perfectly - nothing outrageous or over the top (so maybe fans expecting another "The Hangover" movie might be disappointed), but a movie that is funny that grabs hold of you.

I hope you stayed through the credits. The corny joke Ed Helms told just hit my funny bone for some reason.

P.S. I'll really miss you on Dodgertalk.

Max Clarke said...

All I knew about Ed Helms is his work on The Office, which doesn't give you a lot of confidence he's really normal off the set.

However, I caught his interview with Terry Gross on Fresh Air. A great guy, he and his band appeared live to sing a country or bluegrass melody. He was quite frank about his stage fright. He said he can do standup in front of 2,000 people, and he's fine. But when it's time to sing or play an instrument, he's stricken by horrible fear, and then he gets through it somehow.

Hope his movie does well.

Phillip B said...

John C. Reilly was so solid in Chicago - he earned enough credit with me that I'll forgive him for Step Brothers. Well, almost...

Ed Helms comes from the Onion/Daily Show comedy industrial complex of course, which is proving to be a much more reliable source of talent than the dying embers of SNL.

analee said...

Cedar Rapids is really a good movie.. thanks for the post.

Tim W. said...

Not surprisingly, Cedar Rapids was made outside of the studio system, from what I recall. And released by Fox Searchlight, who may not even KNOW that comedy trailers have to have certain ratio of bodily function jokes to car crashes. Let's hope the MPAA doesn't find out.

And let me go along with what others have said about Paul. Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz were two of the best comedies of their year.

As for John C. Reily, I think it's WAY too late for a breakout performance for him. He's been nominated for an Academy Award and has shown the amazing skill to make Will Ferrel movies almost watchable.

ajjjj said...

I had a question for you for friday - what do managers do, and is it worth it to have one or submit to them when you're starting out?

Thanks!