"Flawed Holy Fool"
CEDAR RAPIDS is a well-crafted, well-acted movie with many hilarious, and even some tender heartwarming moments, but by the third act, the movie’s Romantic, anti-religious, abhorrent agenda becomes more and more clear.
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.
(RoRoRo, PCPCPC, AbAbAb, CapCap, Ho, B, LLL, VV, SS, NN, AA, DDD, MM) Very strong Romantic, ultimately politically correct worldview turning those who believe in God and traditional morality, including Christians, into uptight greedy hypocrites, with some strong pro-capitalist content and some crude homosexual jokes, including a scene where the protagonists walk into a reception for a lesbian wedding in Iowa and start dancing too, plus some moral elements regarding the importance of serving the customer and businessmen helping people in desperate need; at least 57 obscenities, 15 strong profanities, and 11 light profanities, plus many vulgarities and some scatological humor; some comic violence includes fighting and threats; strong sexual content and evil includes depicted fornication, implied adultery, single man and married woman undress in pool and start kissing, lewd dialogue, woman admits she sleeps around, homosexual references, lesbian wedding reception, crude jokes, and man naively befriends a prostitute but eventually advises her she can do better and get a real job; brief upper female nudity, much upper male nudity, brief rear male nudity; alcohol use and drunkenness; smoking and very strong illegal drug references such as smoking crack and snorting cocaine, and hero seems happy the next day that he did those things for the first time; and, cheating, lack of integrity but exposed, hypocrisy, greed but rebuked, and attacks on false piety and “Boy Scout” values.
In CEDAR RAPIDS, Tim, a mild-mannered insurance agent in a small Wisconsin town, suddenly has to go to the big annual insurance convention in Iowa. His boss thinks Tim’s character will help their company earn another Two Diamond Award for moral excellence and Godly virtue. 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 gets in over his head and endangers Brown Star’s chances to win another award. Then, he learns the real reason his company won those awards.
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.