Christian middle America, red state greed, loneliness, kinky sex, true friendship, rural drug abuse and insurance all meet at the crossroads of semi-independent comedic cinema in underrated filmmaker Arteta's genuine and perceptive new film, Cedar Rapids.
Comedian and Hangover alumnus Ed Helms is achingly good as a sheltered, good hearted insurance agent who, as a result of a hushed up scandal, is dispatched by his creepy boss to a midwest convention to scoop up a coveted industry award. Along the way of a conventional plot, Arteta captures countless spontaneous moments which make his film feel fresh and original. It takes a truly talented director to meld a well written run of the mill script and unleash, if not gold, then silver.
Arteta has proven himself a craftsman with an affected touch, bringing deftness and humanity to his comedic gems; Star Maps, Chuck and Buck, The Good Girl and Youth in Revolt all bared teeth and heart, tough acts to accomplish.
In Cedar Rapids he is abetted impassably by an ultra-cast fronted by the kooky, endearing Helms, the brilliant John C. Reilly, not to mention the likes of Sigourney Weaver, Kurtwood Smith and Anne Heche.
What's left behind is honest and hilarious within the plot frame of a typical comedy, typified by one of the best lines in the film, when the hooker tells Helms' character that we're all selling something, be it sex, drugs or insurance.
How Mr. Arteta has presented that here is what every Hollywood comedy should aspire to.