Movie review: Cedar Rapids

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Funnyman Ed Helms seems to be following Steve Carell's career playbook to a tee.

Correspondent on "The Daily Show"? Check. Lovable but socially awkward guy on "The Office"? Check. Supporting role in a breakout movie comedy? Carell had "Anchorman," and Helms had "The Hangover."

Now Helms gets his own starring shot in "Cedar Rapids," an offbeat and kinda dark indie comedy that wears its quirk on its sleeve.

Helms plays Tim Lippe, an earnest and eager salesman in sleepy Brown Valley, Wisconsin. A last-minute switch sends Tim packing for a big convention in the relatively big city of Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Tim's wide-eye naivety gets a workout at the hotel housing the convention, particularly when he's with his fellow attendees, especially the sweetly seductive Joan (Anne Heche) and the hysterically crude Ziegler (John C. Reilly).

The role isn't much of a stretch from the characters Helms is known for, but he can handle lead actor duties, keeping Tim simultaneously affable and laughable.

Getting even more laughs is John C. Reilly. His brash salesman is full of hard drinks and tall tales, and he turns obscenity into an art form.

The fact that "Cedar Rapids" loses just a little momentum down the stretch is the only thing keeping it from being the breakout for Helms that "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" was for Carell.

It's still a great little comedy for those outside of the Adam Sandler crowd.

"Cedar Rapids"

Opens Friday

3 stars out of 4