Smalltown insurance salesman Tim Lippe (The Hangover's Ed Helms) finds himself out of his depth when he's sent to the big city - Iowa's Cedar Rapids - to represent his company at a make-or-break annual insurance convention. He's smitten with foxy Nebraskan insurance agent Joan (Anne Heche) but finds himself intimidated by Isaiah Whitlock Jr's affable go-getter and John C Reilly's boozed-up carouser. Youth In Revolt director Miguel Arteta keeps the gags flowing like draught Bud while Lippe makes for an amiable dweeb happily throwing off his shackles in this raucous comedy.
John C Reilly
Isiah Whitlock Jr.
A life of timid introspection enlivened by a weekly tumble with Sigourney Weaver's cougarish ex-teacher appears to be the best policy for insurance peddler Tim (Helms).
However, he reluctantly gets the chance to cut loose when he's obliged to attend the annual company convention in big city Iowa following the death of a colleague in an auto-erotic mishap.
He's never flown, he's never used a hire car, he thinks Alia Shawkat's brassy hotel hooker is a friendly local and he's never shared a hotel room with Isaiah Whitlock Jr or John C Reilly.
The former is genial, veteran company guy Ronald while the latter is Deanzie, a bullish sales supremo whose noisy declaration for booze'n'birds conceals a collapsed marriage.
Opting for cream sherry rather than tequila shots, Tim is drawn into a world where what happens in Cedar Rapids stays in Cedar Rapids, particularly a drunken night spent with married conventioner Joan (Heche).
Gentle comedy has given way to a more raucous strand with a couple of the lines straying over the line from funny to just plain objectionable (with a cast this strong is the world really a happier place with Downs Syndrome gags?).
However, Jim Burke's script mainly hits the target with Whitlock's Jr's knowing references to The Wire, Reilly excelling as the excessive Deanzie and Heche displaying a delightful comic timing.
What really makes things work is Helms' genuinely endearing dweeb, a gauche smalltown hero who shows that good guys do end up on top. Of Anne Heche.