Stale humor sinks ‘Rapids’

by Morgan Denno

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Photo courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures

Photo courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures

Sometimes movie trailers are misleading. For example, when the trailer for the little known Sundance Film Festival comedy “Cedar Rapids” is viewed, audiences are led to believe the movie will be hilarious. Unfortunately, when almost every funny moment can fit into a two-minute trailer, that is not a mark of a good movie.

The film stars Ed Helms, who is probably most known for his work in “The Hangover” in 2009 and his portrayal of Andy, the preppy oddball on NBC’s “The Office.” His character in “Cedar Rapids,” Tim Lippe, is a small town insurance agent who is invited to an insurance conference in the “big city” of Cedar Rapids, Iowa and is intent on winning the Two Diamond Award. Tim is giddy and innocent with a penchant for goofy sweaters, he befriends a prostitute (Alia Shawkat) and dates his elementary school teacher (Sigourney Weaver). Basically, Helms is playing a version of the sweet, dweeby characters he always seems to play.

At the conference, Tim’s group of friends includes Dean Ziegler (John C. Reilly), Joan Fox-Ostrowski (Anne Heche) and Ronald Wilkes (Isiah Whitlock Jr.). What could have been a funny ensemble was held together by one-liners (mostly made by Reilly), crude humor and constant shots of Tim and Dean walking around in their underwear. Oh, and Dean lights a fart on fire … seriously. The plot seems to twist and turn, not really making any sense, but tries desperately to keep the audience’s attention. Scavenger hunts, karaoke and parties struggle to string the story along, all while Tim seems to keep his childlike naivety.

Even with a star-studded cast and an opening at Sundance, “Cedar Rapids” falls short of being a good movie. The story is dull, the jokes aren’t all that funny and the performances don’t live up to the cast’s previous movies. Save your money, go online and watch the preview instead.

Movie: Cedar Rapids

Directed by: Miguel Arteta

Distributed by: Ad Hominem Enterprises

Release Date: Feb. 11, 2011

Grade: D

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