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Saturday, March 5, 2011

Cedar Rapids... a nice place to visit

Last week I raved and raved about Paul Giamatti.  In particular, I marveled about his performance in Barney's Version.  This week, Ed Helms is securely in the spotlight.  As Tim Lippe, an innocent, naive midwestern insurance salesman, Mr. Helms has once again delivered a nuanced effort.  Off to save his small company at the annual insurance convention, Lippe veers off track. 

Havig never been in an airplane, or in a hotel, or apparently in a rental car ("Sweet" he mutters when he says his temporary ride) Lippe soon finds out trouble is lurking, everywhere.  Lippe, along by John C Reilley as (the prototypical loud mouth drunkard) Anne Heche (vixen) and Isiah Whitlock (seasoned pro) find out how cuthroat the insurance biz can be.  Double crossing, lying, sexual depravity, and bribery pepper the conventions' Cedar Rapids hotel.  Every firm represented kissesChaper President Orin Helgesson (an always reliable Kurtwood Smith) ass in an attempt to capture the prestigious 2 Diamond Award.  Lippe's firm has won the past few.  Will he be able to bring it back home?  Will he be able to stay away from temptations?  Can he maintain his integrity? 

More a film on the overall theme of whoring oneself, Cedar Rapids is full of good, clean laughter.  Reilly is over the top and clearly having fun as Deansie.  We have all know the guy.  Bigger than life with the best timing for the most inappropriate joke.  Heche's Joan is a fiery career gal with devoted family back home.  This is her yearly escape.  A few days to kickck and forget about the soccer games, romance-less marriage and a life unfilled.  "Remember, what happens in Cedar Rapids..."  And Isisah Whitlock as Wilkes, brings just the right touch of humor and warmth.

Lippe has never seen anyone like this group.  Hell, he even cowers in fear when Whitlock opens the door to let him into their shared suitet.  He is on a call home when he declares "A large African Amercian is at my door."  Helms, who was much of the reason The Hangover had success, is perfect as Lippe.  At times soft and vulnerable, the next smoking crack and getting into fights.  Helms is rock steady playing either type.  And all along, there are quality laughs. 

Good to see everyman as tragic and/or comedic leads.  Certainly I can relate far more to Helms bumbling insurance rep than say, Matt Damon's Bourne character.  Granted, I am probably more attractive than both, but you get the point.  Life is a series of missteps and fuck-ups.  I have yet to be in a car chase or jump through a plate glass window.   And yes, this might be an indictment on Adjustment Bureau.  I like Emily Blunt and I am sure it's a fine and entertaining film.  But, do I have to buy into a closet opening a time portal?  And why does the bureau have to look like 50's ad men?  And they cast John Slattery as a cheap rip off???

I will wait for DVD.  Obviously, I like to torture myself with all that is wrong with world.  Why suspend disbelief for a while when you can be reminded how much life can hurt???  "Do you know what it's like to fall on the floor, cry your guts out till ya got no more, hey man now you're really living.*"

Special credit to Phil Johnston who wrote a smart, funny script.  And director Miquel Arteta keeps the film well paced and tight.


The Suburban Dad Notices:

You, with the ratty sweatpants and stomach hanging over them.  Have you just given up?  And could you try to do something with your hair?  When was the last time you went to a salon?  Nails done?  Gym?  C'mon now!!!  You can do better.  But wait, that's not what I am mad about.  No, cause I look like shit too, so who gives a fuck?  No, you are one of those aren't you???  I did not notice at first because I was looking at the hole in your sweats.  Plus I assumed you were talking to a friend in line cause you are so fucking loud.  Nope, I get it now.  You have the bluetooth in ear and we are now all soooo lucky to hear about your kids in college, and dogs illness, and gout.  Thanks.  I was so hoping I could learn the inner thinking of a deranged stranger this morning.  All before 8am.  Please do me a favor and talk this loud when you get to the register.  Excellent, you did it.  Now the barista has asked you 3 times what you want because she doesn't know f your talking to her or your imaginary friend on the phone.  Let's hope you order a, oh there it is...  8 pump, double whip venti, soy caramel latte.  Time sucking, inconsiderate oxygen taker!!! Indicative to NJ?  East coast?  Please tell me your kids are fictiouts.  Could they have been raised by you and still function effectively, and more important, politely?  Next time let's pretend that your time is not more valuable than the hard working baristas that have to deal with people like us (read:you.)  Politely stay off the phone for 5 minutes.  If, for some reason the call is essential, wait outside until it reaches its conculsion.  Then calmly proceed to line.  When prompted give the nice barista your order and attention.  Would not hurt to say "hello, please, thank you."  The $5.00 drink you get does not entitle you to be aloof, rude or pretentious.  Every 5 year old in town can buy that drink with their milk money.  And they know how to say please and thank you.  I am watching you.  And as soon as you get off the phone I will say something.  Just don't want to interrupt your call,  That's rude.

*Song lyrics: Eels

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