Ed Helms must be a sweetheart. In Cedar Rapids, we find him playing Tim Lippe, a perfectly sweet and likeable guy, much like Helms' other famous characters, Andy "Nard Dog" Bernard of the office, or Stu the dentist from Hangover. And as with those characters (though to a much greater extent) Tim's sweetness is more like a flaw than an asset. Everyone thinks he's a screw-up; in reality, he's just a rube. He's in love with a former grade-school teacher (Sigourney Weaver), an older woman who's WAY less serious about it han he is. And when he gets a change to fill in at a Cedar Rapids real estate conferece, he is absolutely beside himself with excitement and enxiety. It's ridiuclous.
Tim's naivety affords him some caution and alarm when he meets his (relatively) more worldly peers. He is momentarily alarmed by the mere blackness of mild-mannered Ronald, Dean "Call me Deanzi" Ziegler's (John C. Reilly) reputation as a bad seed proceeds him, and he's perplexed by the anything-goes attitude of Joan (Anne Heche). Her proclamation that "What happens in Cedar Rapids stays in Cedar Rapids" serves as a blessing and a curse to the childlike Tim. In an ironic twist, Tim is nonplussed by the prostitute that solicits him outside the hotel — he offers her a butterscotch in lieu of a cigarette. Then again, he doesn't get that she's a hooker, yet. But there's still a lot of weekend left.
Mixing a dopey sweetheart with hellraisers in an unfamiliar environment may be pure comedy movie formula, but Cedar Rapids is a perfect example of why such a formula exists. It's hilarious, and the wacky touches provided by the fun cast of slightly-off characters only amps up the laughs. Of course, the ultimate joke of the film is the pure irony of it's namesake setting. This isn't Vegas or Bangkok. It's Cedar Rapids, where business-as-usual still has the capacity to go very, very wrong. Awesome.