Cedar Rapids (Blu-ray)
I had been hearing good things about CEDAR RAPIDS ever since it came out. Everything I heard was completely justified. The best part of this film was that it was more than just an average comedy. I didn’t expect it to take the turn into a heart warming journey of discovery for the main character, Tim played by Ed Helms.
CEDAR RAPIDS takes you inside the world of Insurance. Tim (Helms) is sent off to an insurance convention after the rather strange death of Brownstar Insurance’s top salesman. A trip outside of town may seem rather normal to most, but Tim is a different sort of fellow. He’s much like a child in a grown ups body. The world seems bright and full of opportunities. While Tim may not be totally naïve, he still hasn’t experienced everything the world has to throw at him.
The most important part about the convention is winning the Two Diamond Award, which Tim must come back home with. Before Tim arrives he is told who he can be friends with and who to avoid. The one person he must not make friends with is Dean Ziegler (John C. Reilly), another agent within his home state of Wisconsin. When he gets to the convention in Cedar Rapids, Tim meets his roomie, Ronald Wilkes (Isiah Whitlock Jr.). Ronald is a nice guy who seems just as honest as Tim. Things get complicated when the two guys find out that Dean Ziegler is their third bunkmate. Ziegler may have been portrayed as the bad guy at first, but turns out to be something completely different. The guys crew is rounded out by Joan Ostrowski-Fox (Anne Heche), a strong willed woman who is devoted to her career.
It might be best to categorize this film as more of a dark comedy. Tim’s journey is one that takes several unexpected twists and turns. I really thought this might be a goofy look into the shenanigans of the insurance world, but it turns out to echo something more like OFFICE SPACE with a child like lead character. Helms is wonderful as Tim. I’m used to the normal shtick of Helms as Andy on THE OFFICE. You could say that Andy and Tim are similar in several ways except that Andy gets into way less trouble.
The rest of the crew certainly deserves recognition, as they are all great characters. John C. Reilly proves again that he is still greatly underrated as an actor. He can play any character given to him and usually leaves a mark after you’ve watched a film. Some of his jokes are seriously offensive, but Reilly delivers them in such a way that it’s hard to be stunned. Heche has come along way since the early 90s. The roles she has taken recently have put her back in the game as a serious actor. Whitlock gives a delightful performance that instantly makes you love him in the role of Wilkes. I hope to see more of him in future flicks.
This film is a wonderful surprise even though I felt it was a little short in time. There should have been a little more depth and adventure. Even if CEDAR RAPIDS feels rushed, it is still an effective film in several ways. It also is a nice break from the blockbusters and remakes that are offered up buffet style for the masses of filmgoers. I definitely recommend taking a chance on this one.
Video: The coloring on this one is deep and exceptional. It was something I haven’t seen on a transfer yet. At times it may have felt a bit too dark, but sure enough there was always balance to contrast. (1.85:1 Widescreen).
Audio: The audio is your typical fare. I never really had a problem hearing any of the dialogue and the soundtrack never overpowered the track. (5.1 DTS-HD).
Deleted Scenes (7:00): Six highly enjoyable scenes that just didn’t cut it. Definitely make sure to check these out.
Gag Reel (4:00): As someone who loves Ed Helms on THE OFFICE, it was fun to watch him basically goof around.
Convention Connection (13:00): This is somewhat of a bonding experience for the cast and in this featurette they talk about the time spent with each other.
Mike O’Malley: Urban Clogger (3:00): Check out Mike O’Malley’s clogging skills he learned for the film.
Tweaking in the USA (6:00): An interesting bunch of character profiles are shown here.
Wedding Belles: Crashing a Lesbian Wedding (4:00): This just covers the scene when Tim (Helms) and friends crash the lesbian wedding. I sort of wish they would have discussed the pool scene instead. It’s a great one.
Top Notch Commerical (1:00): A fake commercial for Top Notch Insurance. I expected to see something like this on the extras.
Fox Movie Channel presents Direct Effect with Miguel Arteta (6:00): This is just an interview with the director on the film. Arteta talks about his process and why he was drawn to this script.
Fox Movie Channel presents Writer’s Draft with Phil Johnston (7:00): Another interview, this time with the film’s writer. He talks about how the story came about and discusses the characters.