As small-town Wisconsin insurance salesman Tim Lippe (rhymes with dippy) in the delightfully bent heartland comedy Cedar Rapids, Ed Helms wears the too-flat haircut and too-wrong sweaters of a 40-year-old virgin. But Tim is no such newbie, thank you very much: He enjoys bedroom time with a MILF-y lady played with juice by Sigourney Weaver, no less who was once his seventh-grade teacher in the town of Brown Valley, where Tim still lives. Indeed, the fellow is excited by and grateful for everything the world has to offer. It's just that, until he's sent to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to represent his firm at an annual insurance convention, the boundaries of his world (and the color palette of his wardrobe) have been defined by Brown Valley's village limits. Boy, does Tim learn a lot about life in one Cedar Rapids weekend, especially with party-hearty fellow conventioneers like those played by John C. Reilly, Anne Heche, and The Wire's Isiah Whitlock Jr. on hand to open his eyes.
The movie shares mid-American attitudinal geography with the Scranton of The Office (where Helms works as Andy Bernard and director Miguel Arteta has helmed an episode) and the Omaha of filmmaker Alexander Payne (who is one of Cedar Rapids' producers). But within the structure of a conventional, well-built comedy fable about an innocent among bigger-city sophisticates a screenplay bull's-eye for relative newcomer (and native Wisconsinite) Phil Johnston is something truly original. Cedar Rapids takes time to appreciate the disarming power of sincerity and the appeal of a man who sticks to his values not because he's a rube, and not because his ''unworldliness'' makes the character funnier to sophisticates in the audience, but because that's what a good man does. And whaddaya know, such sweetness makes the raunch in this honestly funny movie even funnier. A–