Cedar Rapids (Miguel Arteta, 2011)

Cedar Rapids is the sort of divertive film that is adequate for passing the time, though warrants little thought afterward. Not to slight the film entirely, as there are certain highlights to the picture, but overall, I can’t say there’s anything here that really left me with anything to chew over later. Unlike Arteta’s previous venture, Youth in Revolt, Cedar Rapids doesn’t expand on its small-town mockery. Instead, it sticks to a comfort zone that provides laughs from time to time, but never really takes that extra step to flesh out its characters. It’s unfortunate too, as the ensemble acting is quite fluid and convincing. Ed Helms, John C. Reilly, Anne Heche, and Isiah Whitlock Jr. gel incredibly well, providing moments of humor and poignancy in their makeshift friendship. The foursome is formed convincingly through the mundanity of their lives – they’re either forced to sleep in the same hotel room or meet in the gym. But they are all confined to expectations and character traits that simply don’t offer many surprises. Anne Heche’s role offers glimpses of something beyond its surface level, but ultimately it’s never expanded upon. On a purely superficial level, the film is adequate in diverting my attention and easing me into a mildly comical world - problem is that it never elevates beyond the purely superficial.