DID YOU READ

“Cedar Rapids,” Reviewed

“Cedar Rapids,” Reviewed (photo)

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The talent level in “Cedar Rapids”‘ is all out of proportion to the quality of the material. The screenplay is thoroughly forgettable but just listen to this cast: Ed Helms, John C. Reilly, Anne Heche, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Stephen Root, Kurtwood Smith, Alia Shawkat, and Sigourney Weaver. Their director is Miguel Arteta, who made the supremely squirmy “Chuck & Buck” and last year’s underrated Michael Cera vehicle “Youth in Revolt.” How did so many wonderful actors and a smart filmmaker all wind up attached to such a nothing script? This is clearly a low budget film. They’re not doing it for the paycheck. Do they all share the same agent or something?

Helms stars as Tim Lippe, a naïve insurance salesman from Brown Valley, Wisconsin. After Tim’s firm’s star salesman dies, he’s sent to replace him at an important insurance convention in Cedar Rapids. Tim’s boss BIll (Root) needs him to win the coveted “2 Diamonds Award” for outstanding insurance company, but Tim is totally unprepared for this assignment. He’s never left Brown Valley, much less flown on an airplane, much less been to a big bad city like Cedar Rapids. So he’ll need to bear down. That means focusing on his work and avoiding infamous convention wild man Dean Ziegler (John C. Reilly) at all costs.

BIll warns Tim to avoid the hard-partying Dean, so naturally a plot contrivance makes them roommates instead. And thank goodness it does because Reilly immediately brightens a heretofore bland movie with his live-wire presence. His Dean is pure irrepressible id, the perfect devil on the shoulder for a guy like Tim, who’s lived his whole life by a code of asceticism you usually only see practiced by clergymen and solitary astronauts on decades-long expeditions to the Planet of the Apes. Arteta also used Reilly to equally good effect in his 2002 film “The Good Girl.” In both cases he plays the role of the character too charming to be despicable. The funniest moment in “Cedar Rapids” isn’t provided by a witty joke or a clever line of dialogue. It’s a look Reilly gives when he’s caught by someone with a trashcan lid on his head. This guy doesn’t just steal the movie; he rips it off and pirates it on the Internet.

“Cedar Rapids”‘ corporate satire isn’t especially sharp, but the mood throughout is consistently warm and likable. Helms makes Tim’s extreme innocence charming (if not especially hilarious) and, just like in “The Hangover,” he remains the sort of nerdy actor audiences enjoy watching get defiled. Anne Heche is the one in charge of most of the defiling, as another conventioneer who pals around with Dean and third roommate Ronald (Whitlock Jr.) and takes a liking to the new kid on the block. Heche’s good too; charming, flirty, and casual. I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed her in a movie this much.

The quest for the 2 Diamonds Award bogs “Cedar Rapids” down with way too many plot twists and character reversals. There’s also a really egregious hooker with a heart of gold who’s also wise beyond her years and gets to enunciate the film’s big point (“We’re all just selling…”). The film is at its best at its simplest, when it gets out of its own way and just lets us endure this very tiresome corporate retreat’s bizarre customs and rituals with that core four — Helms, Heche, Whitlock Jr., and especially Reilly. I’m still not entirely sure what these folks saw in “Cedar Rapids.” Maybe it was just an opportunity to work together. In that sense, they made the most of it.

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Millennial Wisdom

Charles Speaks For Us All

Get to know Charles, the social media whiz of Brockmire.

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He may be an unlikely radio producer Brockmire, but Charles is #1 when it comes to delivering quips that tie a nice little bow on the absurdity of any given situation.

Charles also perfectly captures the jaded outlook of Millennials. Or at least Millennials as mythologized by marketers and news idiots. You know who you are.

Played superbly by Tyrel Jackson Williams, Charles’s quippy nuggets target just about any subject matter, from entry-level jobs in social media (“I plan on getting some experience here, then moving to New York to finally start my life.”) to the ramifications of fictional celebrity hookups (“Drake and Taylor Swift are dating! Albums y’all!”). But where he really nails the whole Millennial POV thing is when he comments on America’s second favorite past-time after type II diabetes: baseball.

Here are a few pearls.

On Baseball’s Lasting Cultural Relevance

“Baseball’s one of those old-timey things you don’t need anymore. Like cursive. Or email.”

On The Dramatic Value Of Double-Headers

“The only thing dumber than playing two boring-ass baseball games in one day is putting a two-hour delay between the boring-ass games.”

On Sartorial Tradition

“Is dressing badly just a thing for baseball, because that would explain his jacket.”

On Baseball, In A Nutshell

“Baseball is a f-cked up sport, and I want you to know it.”


Learn more about Charles in the behind-the-scenes video below.

And if you were born before the late ’80s and want to know what the kids think about Baseball, watch Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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Crown Jules

Amanda Peet FTW on Brockmire

Amanda Peet brings it on Brockmire Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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On Brockmire, Jules is the unexpected yin to Jim Brockmire’s yang. Which is saying a lot, because Brockmire’s yang is way out there. Played by Amanda Peet, Jules is hard-drinking, truth-spewing, baseball-loving…everything Brockmire is, and perhaps what he never expected to encounter in another human.

“We’re the same level of functional alcoholic.”


But Jules takes that commonality and transforms it into something special: a new beginning. A new beginning for failing minor league baseball team “The Frackers”, who suddenly about-face into a winning streak; and a new beginning for Brockmire, whose life gets a jumpstart when Jules lures him back to baseball. As for herself, her unexpected connection with Brockmire gives her own life a surprising and much needed goose.

“You’re a Goddamn Disaster and you’re starting To look good to me.”

This palpable dynamic adds depth and complexity to the narrative and pushes the series far beyond expected comedy. See for yourself in this behind-the-scenes video (and brace yourself for a unforgettable description of Brockmire’s genitals)…

Want more about Amanda Peet? She’s all over the place, and has even penned a recent self-reflective piece in the New York Times.

And of course you can watch the Jim-Jules relationship hysterically unfold in new episodes of Brockmire, every Wednesday at 10PM on IFC.

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Draught Pick

Sam Adams “Keeps It Brockmire”

All New Brockmire airs Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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From baseball to beer, Jim Brockmire calls ’em like he sees ’em.

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It’s no wonder at all, then, that Sam Adams would reach out to Brockmire to be their shockingly-honest (and inevitably short-term) new spokesperson. Unscripted and unrestrained, he’ll talk straight about Sam—and we’ll take his word. Check out this new testimonial for proof:

See more Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC, presented by Samuel Adams. Good f***** beer.

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