I saw Cedar Rapids over the weekend. I thought it was pretty solid. I think it's been a while since I've seen a good, pure comedy film in theaters. And while this at times tried to be more than that, I didn't feel like it had the emotional backing to be something greater, and was pretty much just a comedy to me. And a funny one at that.
I hate Ed Helms' character Andy on The Office, and that's basically what he is most associated with nowadays. Andy is essentially an unfunny cartoon. But I thought his character in The Hangover was the best thing he's ever done. He had backbone, was kind of a jerk, and was more grounded in reality than the cartoonish Andy. Helms' character in Cedar Rapids was kind of a mix between the two. A real, relatable character in one scene, then a cartoonish crybaby in the next. I suppose I'm not against cartoonish characters in comedy films, but sometimes it wears me down when irrational behavior is the force behind the jokes. Either commit and go full cartoon (like Will Ferrell or Jack Black) or don't. The mix becomes confusing to the tone of the film.
For example, John C. Reilly in this film, he went full cartoon. But more of an adult cartoon, like a Ralph Bakshi cartoon. And it was hilarious. John C. Reilly is the man. I guess some could claim he's something of a one trick comedy pony, but I beg to differ. I feel like he has actual acting ability (which could be proven by his early, more dramatic career), and his comedy feels like it's more natural than most. I don't know, to me, nothing about John C. Reilly seems forced, and I think that's awesome.
I think my favorite thing about Cedar Rapids, though, is the fact that it's basically a coming-of-age movie about a 35-year-old man. I didn't realize that's what it was going to be going into it, but that's very much what it was. If you make all the characters teenagers and have them go to an academic competition instead of an insurance convention, you could keep most of the basic plot points in tact.
I wouldn't say Cedar Rapids was great, but it was definitely above average. Especially in this time of the year, which lies between the end of awards season and the start of the summer blockbusters. In fact, I just looked over the small handful of 2011 films I've seen thus far, and Cedar Rapids is at the top. That's of course not saying much in February, but yeah, it's a decent movie.