CEDAR RAPIDS – “Cedar Rapids” the movie won more than just two diamonds with the full house gathered for a sneak preview Thursday night (2/17/2011).
The 253-seat theater at the Galaxy 16 Cine was packed with laughter from beginning to end, from Sigourney Weaver’s hilarious turn as a cougar to John C. Reilly’s sophomoric high jinks as the credits rolled 86 minutes later.
The event drew a mix of ages, with everyone clutching the golden tickets they’d won through local media giveaways this week.
Amanda Griffith, 25, of North Liberty, entered every contest she could find online and got the call Thursday at work, saying she had won. Her friends had seen the movie’s trailer. “Other than that, all I know is that it’s about Cedar Rapids,” she said while standing in the line that formed more than an hour before the 7:30 p.m. show time.
Demetrios Hadjis, 59, of Cedar Rapids, a veteran of Theatre Cedar Rapids performances, said he was “excited to see what they’ve done with the movie.”
He purposely wanted to walk into the movie with no preconceived notions.
“I’m trying to keep my eyes closed” to the hype beforehand, he said, “so I can have my first impressions without the reviews and trailers.”
He couldn’t help but hear, however, that shooting moved to Ann Arbor, Mich., after the collapse of the Iowa film tax credit nearly forced the movie to be scrapped entirely.
“With the potential acting opportunities for the local people lost, it’s sad,” he said, “not to mention the restaurants and hotels” that would have profited from having the movie made in Iowa. “It’s a big loss to the community.”
Having a scattering of local icons onscreen helped buffer that disappointment for Josh Willia, 30, of Cedar Rapids.
“The Cedar Rapids shots made it real,” he said, “and the humor was very original. Cedar Rapids was very well portrayed.”
His wife, Lizette, 27, agreed. She especially liked the shots of Quaker Oats and the talk about the floods of 2008.
The plot follows naïve Tim Lippe (played by Ed Helms) as he steps out of his small-town world into a big city of opportunities during a regional insurance convention in Cedar Rapids. Compounding his angst, he’s trying to bring home the coveted Two Diamond award for his company, which his smooth-talking late co-worker managed to snag three years in a row. That’s more pressure than Lippe has ever faced.
Helms’ dumbfounded blank looks drew as many laughs as the raunchy humor hopping out of his hotel roommate’s mouth (Riley). Some lines and antics even drew applause, especially when Lippe attempted to scale a rock climbing wall during a team-building scavenger hunt at Westdale Mall.
Among those laughing on the way out was Sheryl Bequeaith, 65, of Cedar Rapids.
“It was funny – it really was,” she said as she exited the theater. “It made Wisconsin look worse than us. Who knows what’s hiding in Cedar Rapids.”
– DIANA NOLLEN