Flawed Holy Fool
Release Date: February 11, 2011
Runtime: 86 minutes
Distributor: Fox Searchlight Pictures/News Corp.
Director: Miguel Arteta
Executive Producer: Ed Helms
Writer: Phil Johnston
Address Comments To:Rupert Murdoch, Chairman/CEO, News Corp.
Chase Carey, President/COO, News Corp.
Stephen Gilula, President/COO
Nancy Utley, President/COO
Fox Searchlight Pictures
20th Century Fox Film Corp.
10201 West Pico Blvd., Bldg. 38; Los Angeles, CA 90035
Phone: (310) 369-1000; Fax: (310) 369-2359
Ed Helms of TV’s THE OFFICE stars as mild-mannered, earnest insurance agent Tim Lippe of Brown Star Insurance in Brown Valley, Wisconsin. Tim fully believes in the good that insurance agents can do for their clients. He’s also having an affair with his former middle school teacher, Macy, recently divorced. Basically, Tim is a flawed Holy Fool, an innocent among wolves.
Tim’s boss thrusts him into the limelight when their star agent, Brian, suddenly kills himself performing a lewd stunt. Now, it’s up to Tim to go to the annual insurance convention in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and make sure Brown Star wins the Second Diamond award for morally upstanding, Godly insurance values for the fourth year in a row. The boss sternly warns Tim to stay away from Dean Zeigler and stick close to Ronald Wilkes, who’ll be rooming with Tim at the convention.
Better said than done.
Tim learns Dean is the third man occupying their hotel room. Nevertheless, Ron tries to steer Tim away from Dean’s wild shenanigans. Tim also meets Joan, a beautiful married insurance agent. Joan and Ron get Tim to loosen up a little bit, even winning the Treasure Hunt contest with Joan, but Tim gets in over his head and endangers Brown Star’s chances to win another award. Then, he learns the real reason Brian won those awards for their company.
[SPOILER ALERTS] At first, much of the humor in CEDAR RAPIDS involves the contrast between Tim, the mild-mannered hero, and the irreverent, drunken insurance agent, played by John C. Reilly in a really wild performance. The contrast is pretty hilarious. Then, however, Reilly’s character clues Tim into the hypocrisy of the straight-laced leader of the insurance association, who sold the Two Diamond Award to the highest bidder. Eventually, Tim also learns that his Catholic boss is also hypocritical. Thus, the movie’s focus shifts into a politically correct critique of God-fearing Americans. At the same time, the movie hypocritically tries to retain the moral basis, including the capitalist values, behind Tim’s philosophy of serving the public, which actually comes from the traditional religious worldview the movie implicitly attacks.
Consequently, the movie travels from being merely excessive and irreverent to truly abhorrent. It does this in a good-humored way that’s very well written and acted, but the end result is totally unacceptable.
At first, much of the humor in CEDAR RAPIDS involves the contrast between Tim, the mild-mannered hero, and the irreverent, drunken insurance agent, played by John C. Reilly in a really wild performance. The contrast is pretty hilarious. Ultimately, however, the movie exposes the two biggest religious believers in the story, who turn out to be greedy hypocrites. Also, adultery and promiscuity are excused, and there’s plenty of lewd behavior, including, toward the end, drug use. Thus, CEDAR RAPIDS goes from being merely irreverent and excessive to abhorrent and politically correct.