Director: Miguel Arteta
Stars: Ed Helms, John C. Reilly, Anne Heche, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Stephen Root, Kurtwood Smith, Alia Shawkat, Sigourney Weaver
Success wise, it’s been a huge year for comedies, with the wretched The Hangover Part II breaking worldwide records and the far better Bridesmaids easily moving past the $100 million mark. Totally under the mainstream’s radar, however, a little charmer called Cedar Rapids debuted in theaters this past February and lobbied for Best Comedy of the Year status, a title it rightfully held until the aforementioned Bridesmaids premiered (more on that one to come). Now, it’s the year’s second best comedy (so far), which is no minor consolation.

Led by an affable Ed Helms and John C. Reilly’s whirlwind of raunch, Cedar Rapids depicts a weekend-long insurance agent convention as an Animal House for the post-college working class. Though the film’s humor is often juvenile, and even filthy, director Miguel Arteta keeps the emphasis on its eclectic characters, riding the ensemble’s tight chemistry straight into a routinely happy ending that actually feels earned. It’s nearly enough to forgive Helms for The Hangover’s abhorrent sequel—the key word being “nearly,” though.