Directed by Miguel Arteta
Written by Phil Johnston
Starring Ed Helms, Anne Heche, John C. Riley, Sigourney Weaver and Isiah Whitlock

This is a widely praised film and I can understand the good reviews given what’s come out since Christmas. If you are looking for a gentle, good-hearted, mildly funny film, this is probably your best bet. Am I damning it with faint praise? Just a bit.

Tim Lippe (Helms) is the last-minute replacement for a cracker- jack insurance salesman due to go to the great metropolis of Cedar Rapids, Iowa for a convention. Although in his mid-thirties, he seems to have never left his tiny Wisconsin town and is both frightened and in awe of his luck. He says goodbye to his former teacher, now girlfriend, Sigourney Weaver and flies off. Everything looks pretty rosy in the standard issue hotel. But it is easy for three other conventioneers (Heche, Riley and Whitlock) to subvert him—but just a little. A good time and many lessons are learned by all.

There is some raunchy humor here—a bit surprising for the general tenor of the movie, but no one is going to stomp out upset. Well, no one except for the woman behind me. I didn’t laugh much but I smiled a few times. It went down like a good cup of cocoa in general. An easy way to pass 85 minutes in the dead of winter.


Patti Abbott writes crime fiction short stories. She hosts a look at Forgotten Books every Friday with readers, writers and reviewers at She hopes you’ll join in