Thursday, November 3, 2011

Cedar Rapids (2011)

This is the adventure of a naïve small-town insurance salesman attending a big out-of-town convention. Who better than Ed Helms to play the idealistic, childlike Tim Lippe. He hooks up with a wonderful trio of cronies, Isiah Whitlock Jr, John C. Reilly, and Ann Heche.

This could’ve been an easily forgettable romp--there’s plenty of sex, drugs and debauchery to go around. But it’s not. There’s a real solidness to it; a sweetness to the story. A man’s (albeit a goofy man’s) coming of age, and the value of friends, honesty, and ethics.

It’s a well-woven blend of really hysterical moments and also some very tender ones. It can go slightly over the top at times, but hey, it all works. Not preachy or overly sugared with sentiment. But you feel it. Ed Helms has a big part in that, his genius is making you feel sorry for him while you’re laughing at him. Wonderful stuff.

And he can rock the lame sweaters as well as Pacino can rock the shades.

John C. Reilly really nails the obnoxious jerk/goodguy combo role, and thank you lord, Ann Heche in a part that I could actually tolerate her in. Sigourney Weaver, Kurtwood Smith (the bad guy in RoboCop), and freckled Alia Shawkat are 3 very nice treats as well.

This is a fine popcorn or date movie. Very gentle with good laughs and a feel-good vibe. And it ended perfectly by the way.

Quickie Synopsis

Of Age

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Paper Chase (1973)

The struggles of a Harvard Law School student. Timothy Bottoms is solid and thoughtful as James Hart, a first-year law student. He is completely awed and terrified to the point of puking by the dreaded Professor Kingsfield. John Houseman won an Oscar for playing this sarcastic, intelligent and caustic giant. If you want essential John Houseman, this is the movie to see.

Lindsay Wagner plays Hart's love interest and daughter of the feared professor. Some very fun characters show up in the likes of Graham Beckel, Edward Herrmann, and Craig Richard Nelson as Hart's study group partners.

Love that early 70's feel-- kind of a laid-back outer coating revealing a ball of stress nestled on the inside. Even if you are not a law student, this is a very smart movie with some characters you will not forget, trust me. An overused word these days, but Kingsfield is EPIC.

Quickie Synopsis

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