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Miguel Arteta
Ed Helms, John C. Reilly, Anne Heche, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Stephen Root, Rob Corddry, Sigourney Weaver
Writing Credits:
Phil Johnston

Today Is The First Day ... Of The Rest Of His Weekend.

Tim Lippe has no idea what he's in for when he's sent to Cedar Rapids, Iowa to represent his company at an annual insurance convention, where he soon finds himself under the "guidance" of three convention veterans.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$302.968 thousand on 15 screens.
Domestic Gross
$6.857 million.

Rated PG-13

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 87 min.
Price: $39.99
Release Date: 6/21/2010

• Deleted Scenes
• Gag Reel
• “Convention Connection” Featurettes
• “Mike O’Malley – Urban Clogger” Featurette
• “Tweaking in the USA” Featurette
• “Wedding Belles – Crashing a Lesbian Wedding” Featurette
• “Top Notch” Commercial
• Two “Fox Movie Channel Presents” Featurettes
• Previews and Trailer
• Digital Copy


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Cedar Rapids [Blu-Ray] (2011)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (June 28, 2011)

When I saw the trailer for 2011’s Cedar Rapids, I thought it looked like a variation on the themes from 2009’s huge hit The Hangover. The presence of Ed Helms in both certainly added to the impression of similarities. Though I didn’t think much of Hangover, I still thought I’d give Rapids a look.

Tim Lippe (Helms) works as an agent at a tiny Midwestern insurance firm. When their star salesman (Thomas Lennon) dies suddenly, Tim gets the assignment to go to a convention in Cedar Rapids, where he needs to make a pitch to help the company maintain a particular award. While at the convention, Tim attempts to impress ASMI head Orin Helgesson (Kurtwood Smith).

Tim also ends up stuck with Dean Ziegler (John C. Reilly) as a roommate, which leads to potential complications; Tim’s boss (Stephen Root) warned him to stay away from the wild Ziegler. In addition, Tim gets to know sexy agent Joan Ostrowski-Fox (Anne Heche), a friendship that leads to some intimate time.

Why do I get the feeling that when they cast Rapids, the producers said “get that guy from The Hangover” and meant Zach Galifianakis, not Helms? Yes, that’s a more than slightly disingenuous comment – Helms is an executive producer on the film, not just a hired hand – but man, does Tim feel like a role better suited for Galifianakis.

Mostly. Helms feels more like a Midwest insurance agent, but everything else about the part comes across as typical Galifianakis. Tim is a dopey, naïve, immature man-child just like the characters Galifianakis often plays. The gags suit his style of acting much more than they do Helms’, so Ed just seems out of place here. He attempts to Zach it up good but he doesn’t connect with the character or the gags, so he ends up just being irritating, and not the funny annoying of Galifianakis’ work. Tim’s just unlikable and unbelievable, and it’s impossible to accept such a character could be a successful insurance agent. He seems like he’d have a hard time keeping a job bagging groceries.

The characters become the movie’s biggest weakness, and since it’s a firmly character-based comedy, that’s a major problem. Like I mentioned, Helms is all wrong for Tim, and Ziegler is totally obnoxious, though not in a funny way. Dear old Reilly gives the part his all, but the writing lets him down; he attempts to make Ziegler a lovable lout, but he can’t work that particular miracle.

Rather than embrace the wild romp it aspires to be, Rapids tries to have its Serious Moments as well. These simply underscore the movie’s lack of real heart and feel out of place. While I’m not sure I’d like the film much more if it just embraced its inner wackiness, at least it’d be more consistent and less pretentious. The hints of seriousness don’t succeed, as they feel tacked on and gratuitous.

Even when Rapids manages a good gag, it finds a way to hurt it. For instance, there’s a scene in which buttoned-down Ronald (Isiah Whitlock, Jr.) talks tough to extricate his pals from a dicey situation. When they leave, he explains that he does a good impression of “Omar” from The Wire.

On its own, that’s a funny bit, and it’s even aided by the “inside baseball” fact that Whitlock was a regular on that series. So what harms the joke? Foreshadowing. Earlier in the film, Ronald mentions his fondness for The Wire. Either include that statement and leave out the post-speech explanation – to let the audience figure out Ronald’s shtick on their own - or omit the foreshadowing and stick solely with Ronald’s after the fact comments. The presence of both scenes means that we get the gag as it’s happening, and it makes the bit much less effective.

Even with the annoying foreshadowing, that scene’s probably the most clever in Rapids. The movie seems to find endless delight in naked/scantily-clad out of shape guys. Oh, it just can’t get enough of them, and it hopes we feel the same way.

You might, but I don’t, and I can’t find much else in Cedar Rapids to embrace. It takes a talented cast and throws them into annoying roles without much comic value.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture A-/ Audio B-/ Bonus C+

Cedar Rapids appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. . I found the movie to boast an excellent visual presentation.

Sharpness seemed nearly immaculate. Only a smidgen of softness ever appeared, as the vast majority of the movie looked distinctive and concise. No issues with jaggies or shimmering occurred, and the image lacked edge haloes. Source flaws never interfered with this clean transfer.

The movie featured a subdued palette that favored a brown tint much of the time, though blues became more prominent as the flick moved to a harsher place during its third act. The colors didn’t dazzle, but they satisfied. Blacks were dark and deep, while shadows showed nice clarity and delineation. I was totally satisfied with this terrific image.

As for the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, it seemed low-key. The soundfield offered good stereo music – that also spread to the back speakers – but not much more. Effects demonstrated some decent ambience in bars and gatherings, but that was about it. Though we got some general atmosphere, nothing much occurred to flesh out the mix.

Audio quality appeared fine. Music provided the most presence, and the score appeared pretty full and rich. Effects were fine; again, they didn’t have much to do, but they remained reasonably accurate. Speech appeared natural and concise. Nothing particularly exciting materialized here, but the track was perfectly acceptable for a movie like this.

A few extras round out the set. Six Deleted Scenes run a total of seven minutes, 19 seconds. These include “Dinner with Macy” (1:11), “Song Dedication” (0:37), “Cart Ride” (0:13), “Fire Extinguisher Fight” (1:28), “Goodbye to Bree” (1:55) and “Cabin Extras” (1:55). Most of these just add to our impression of Tim as immature and idiotic; they don’t develop the story and they’re not amusing. “Bree” does give us a little closure for that character – it’s unnecessary, but it’s there – and “Extras” simply offers some random moments that would’ve gone during the coda.

A Gag Reel lasts four minutes, 17 seconds. It delivers the standard goofs/giggles as well as some alternate lines. The latter make it more interesting than most and worth a look.

Under Convention Connection, we get seven snippets with a total of 13 minutes, 19 seconds. These cover the characters/story and involve comments from executive producer/actor Ed Helms, and actors John C. Reilly, Anne Heche, Isiah Whitlock, Jr., Stephen Root, Kurtwood Smith, and Alia Shawkat. A few insights into performances emerge, but mostly these just deliver generic notes.

Next comes the two-minute, 55-second Mike O’Malley – Urban Clogger. Actor O’Malley talks about his dance performance in the movie and we see his practice along with some remakrs from instructor Shane Gruber. It’s quick but decent.

Tweaking in the USA goes for six minutes, 13 seconds and features Helms, Shawkat, director Miguel Arteta, and actors Seth Morris and Rob Corddry. We get info about the shooting of a big party sequence. It mixes in enough useful details to merit your time.

For another featurette, we go to Wedding Belles – Crashing a Lesbian Wedding. It fills Four minutes, 16 seconds and offers remarks from screenwriter Phil Johnston, production designer Doug Meerdink and costume designer Hope Hanafin. They discuss aspects of the scene in question and deliver nice info about design/costume choices.

We see an ad for Tim’s new insurance company in the final film, but the one-minute, 16-second Top Notice Commercial gives us an alternate one. Actually, it’s a promo for the film; I don’t know where it ran, but it refers the viewer to the flick’s website. It’s a fun extra.

Two Fox Movie Channel Presents featurettes finish off the disc. We get “Direct Effect Miguel Arteta” (6:37) and “Writer’s Draft Phil Johnston” (6:48). In the first, Arteta discusses his approach to direction and aspects of shooting the film, while in the second, Johnston chats about aspects of the script/story/characters. Both are short but good, as they deliver a surprising amount of information across their brief running times.

The disc launches with ads for Win Win, Skateland and Big Mommas: Like Father Like Son. The set also provides the trailer for Rapids.

A second disc provides a Digital Copy of Rapids. This allows you to plop the movie onto different portable thingies. Laugh it up, fuzz ball!

With a pretty strong cast behind it and a fun – if derivative – concept, Cedar Rapids could’ve delivered some debauched humor. Unfortunately, it comes with annoying characters and a decided lack of comic inspiration. The Blu-ray provides excellent visuals, acceptable audio and a moderately interesting roster of supplements. This is a pretty positive Blu-ray for a disappointing movie.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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