Miguel Arteta’s latest film Cedar Rapids takes bits and pieces from his previous projects and rolls them all into one. There are some elements of “The Office” with Ed Helms, a bit of The Good Girl with John C. Reilly, and some awkward and sometimes dark humor like seen in Youth in Revolt. Rapids is set in a small town at a convention and it magnifies the seedy underbelly of the insurance world.

The Players:

  • Director: Miguel Arteta (watch our video interview)
  • Screenwriter: Phil Johnston
  • Cast: Ed Helms, John C. Reilly, Anne Heche, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Stephen Root, Kurtwood Smith, Alia Shawkat
  • Cinematography By: Chuy Chávez
  • Original Music By: Christophe Beck

The Plot:

Cedar Rapids takes place in the title city, where insurance agent Tim Lippe goes to participate in an industry convention. While there, he’s given strict instructions on what to do and who to avoid. But he gets distracted by three other agents played by Reilly, Whitlock Jr., and Heche and trouble ensues.

The Good:

  • Anne Heche: Heche plays the lone female in the group of insurance agents and her character is truly one of the boys. She’s not dainty or demure. When she interacts with the rest of the cast, she’s assertive but doesn’t come across as trashy. She’s a guy’s girl and she kept even the most obnoxious male characters on their toes.
  • The World of Insurance: Johnston’s take on insurance companies and their conventions is refreshing and different. Everyone knows that insurance agents are competitive but who knew they were so down and dirty with each other?

The So-So:

  • Tim Lippe: When I first saw Tim the first thought that came to mind was, ‘Stu is that you?’ I’m referring to Helms’ character from The Hangover who shares a lot of the same traits as Tim. There’s even a scene in both films that feature Helms doing the same action, in the same location, but as the different characters. The roles are almost too close for comfort.
  • John C. Reilly: Let me preface this by saying that I like John C. Reilly. He’s an awesome actor at both comedy and drama, but haven’t we seen him play this character before? Him and Helms suffer from the same homogeneous role that continues to pop up in all their films.

The Bad:

  • The Tone: This is definitely a comedy but there are some emotional moments as well. I don’t want to spoil anything, but Tim Lippe has some serious abandonment issues.
  • Underuse of Thomas Lennon: How can you have Thomas Lennon in a film and treat him like a third string character? Granted his role served its purpose to progress the story but he was still greatly underused. They could have given him some better dialogue for the short period of time he was on screen.


Cedar Rapids is a fun film that mixes The Hangover with Old School and a pinch of Step Brothers. If that sounds like a winning combination to you, go see it!

Rating: 7.5/10

Cedar Rapids opens in limited release on February 11th.

Photo Gallery:


Get the Flash Player to see this content.

Will you be seeing Cedar Rapids this weekend?