A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this raunchy "hard R" comedy in the tradition of Animal House is about a group of men who cut loose and go crazy (some of them for the very first time) and then eventually take down a corrupt and hypocritical authority figure. The movie includes massive amounts of language, with some of the most creative and abundant swearing in ages. There's also heavy sexual innuendo and references to lots of sexual situations (multiple partners, adultery, prostitution, etc.). And there's heavy drinking, as well as use of hard drugs like crack. Thanks to a funny trailer and the presence of Hangover co-star Ed Helms, teens may be attracted to this envelope-pushing comedy, but it's really best left for adults.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Tim Lippe (Ed Helms) is a naive small-town insurance man. When his firm's star salesman unexpectedly dies, Tim is selected to go to a convention in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and is expected to help his firm win the Two Diamond award for the fourth year in a row. Once there, Tim tries to do the right thing but falls in with a crowd of ne'er-do-wells, including party animal Dean Ziegler (John C. Reilly), flirty Joan Ostrowski-Fox (Anne Heche), and upright Ronald Wilkes (Isiah Whitlock Jr.). As Tim begins to have a good time, he also begins to discover greed, selfishness, and corruption on all sides. Can he come to terms with this harsh reality check and rise above it?
Is it any good?
Directed by Miguel Arteta CEDAR RAPIDS has a grungy, low-budget feel, but it's actually a perfect copy of Animal House's successful, decades'-old formula. Nerds cut loose, discover their true selves, and bring down hypocritical authority figures. The movie also uses its small-town setting more to ridicule its characters than to say anything funny or insightful about small-town life.
But while there's nothing surprising about the movie's story or plot, the characters are endearing and -- though not constantly funny, they're at least consistently funny. Cedar Rapids also has the fact that its characters are adults -- rather than teens -- setting it apart from other films in the Animal House mold. Although they may act like crazy college students, in their quiet moments, these are grown-ups with grown-up problems (divorce, loneliness, unsatisfying marriages, etc.). Overall, the movie has enough laughs and charm to ensure a good time ... for those mature enough to handle its content, that is.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the movie's sexual situations. Which characters are looking for solid relationships, and which aren't? Why? What messages does the movie send about sex and relationships?
Characters drink and do drugs a lot in this movie. Why? What would the consequences for this behavior be in real life?
Are any of the characters in this movie role models? Why or why not?
- In theaters: February 11, 2011
- On DVD or streaming: June 21, 2011
- Cast: Anne Heche, Ed Helms, John C. Reilly
- Director: Miguel Arteta
- Studio: Fox Searchlight
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 86 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: crude and sexual content, language and drug use
- Last updated: September 21, 2019
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