Least known of Anne Heche’s alter egos is an as-yet-unnamed screwball comedian. Heche has made wonderful copy off-screen, outcrazying very stiff competition in Southern California. Still, as three separate family memoirs by the Heches make clear, it was in the God-fearing Midwest that the trouble began. And the new film Cedar Rapids is all about how deranged the Midwest can be.
With long, glossy red hair and a fiery wardrobe, Heche plays Joan Ostrowski-Fox, an insurance salesperson. The highlight of her sedate year is the annual convention in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, population 120,000. It’s her time to cut loose. When she’s prissily accused of being “a philanderer,” Joan flashes a weary look and makes a slow upward wave of the hand: what are you going to do?
Based on a robust script by Phil Johnston, Cedar Rapids shows us some captivating alliances during the course of the insurance convention. Ed Helms, the Larry Fine among the three stooges of The Hangover, is the film’s actual hero. He plays Tim Lippe, a salesman from the BrownStar Insurance Company of Brown Valley, Wisc. After a far more proactive salesman meets with an accident, his ogre of a boss sends him as an alternate delegate.