OOTS has a new favorite insurance film: Cedar Rapids. It’s the charming story of a thirty-something insurance salesman – Tim Lippe, played by Ed Helms – whose first trip out of the small Wisconsin town where he was born is to the big city of Cedar Rapids for what turns out to be a rather debauched insurance conference, where he goes through rites of passage – skinny dipping, karaoke, meth smoking – and finally enters adulthood.
This sweet coming of age story brings in auto-asphyxiation, prostitution, betrayal, alcoholism, Oedipal longings, and being an orphan – all while being completely delightful, really smart, and possibly one of the least cynical movies ever made. Supporting characters are also terrific – standouts include John C. Reilly as an alcoholic n’er do well, Anne Heche as a likable adulteress, Isiah Whitlock Jr. as a straight-laced fan of The Wire, and Sigourney Weaver as Lippe’s seventh grade teacher-turned-commitment-shy girlfriend.
Just one pleasing moment in the movie is when Lippe gives a heartfelt speech about insurance sales people as heroes who protect people’s investments, and their dreams. He became an insurance agent, Lippe explains to Anne Heche’s character during this emotional moment, when an insurance salesman made sure he and his mother got money after his father’s death.
It’s hard to imagine who wouldn’t enjoy this movie – but we think an insurance-friendly audience will especially appreciate the familiar setting, as well as the Lippe’s argument for the exaltation of the insurance industry.
Cedar Rapids is Birth of a Salesman, and it is terrific.