I know what you're thinking – what could be funnier than a movie about Midwestern insurance salesmen? After seeing "Cedar Rapids" this week, I can tell you: pretty much any film you saw in high school biology class where something preserved in brine was dissected for 45 minutes. That's right – I prefer the pickled internal organs of bargain-priced mammals and amphibians to the comedic stylings of Ed Helms and John C. Reilly.
But wait, you are surely saying to yourself, the middle of America is such a comedy hotbed! Remember all of those incredibly funny films set in Iowa, Indiana, Idaho or any other state that starts with the letter "I" that may or may not part of this particular region of America? (Give Mr. Cranky a break, here – the school of hard knocks didn't include a geography course, but it did give him a bachelor's degree in how to put out cigarettes on his eyeball).
My point is, where the land is flat, the jokes also tend to fall that way too. Haven't we already seen too many flicks where small town nobodies thrust into marginally larger metropolitan areas have a zany weekend where they break free from the good sense the Lord gave them? "Cedar Rapids" sort of plays out like "Best in Show" meets "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," only instead of a Ferrari crashing through a crowd of Pekinese, we get to see John C. Reilly masturbate in a pool with a garbage can lid on his head.
And you know what? If the entire film had been a series of shots of Reilly calling Jay Owens from a variety of unusual locations, then maybe I wouldn't have felt bad about spending the $10 I stole from those Girl Guides who showed up at my door to see this movie. But alas, alack, I had to sit through many, many scenes where nary a visible penis was to be found, with my entire nervous system tingling at the prospect that any second, Harvey Keitel might wander into the frame and show these amateurs how it's really done.
Despite its low levels of male frontal nudity, "Cedar Rapids" did have one redeeming characteristic for the Cranky audience: epic crack smoking on the part of Ed Helms' protagonist. Is the film's portrayal of Midwestern natives as rock-smoking, teenage-prostitute using yokels accurate? I don't know. But I do know that should we ever get a sequel, if half the characters from the original film are dead or in rehab, then all of those anti-drug messages I absorbed through John Stamos' piercing gaze in NBC's "The More Your Know" segments were complete and utter bullshit.
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