Family Movie Night


When does a movie go from comedy to slice of life?


For me, it is when the action slows down and requires the main character to cross a line. This might mean he has to make a moral decision, it might mean he has to stand up to someone who wants him to do wrong.


It might be funny or serious but in the end it feels as if a moral victory has been won by the main character and we, the viewers, feel rejuvenated by his decision.


I ask this because Cedar Rapids comes to the home market this week and the reviews are mixed. Some professional reviewers loved it while others hated it.  I am curious to see this movie because when it first came out, I heard many wonderful opinions of this movie.


There was amazement that a movie that had so much raunchy humor could also be sweet and touching.


The story is about an insurance agent who gets sent to his company’s convention in Iowa in order to win back a coveted award. Tim has always lived in his small Wisconsin town and has never moved, emotionally, beyond a high school stage of life. And what he sees at this convention with the men he shares a room at the hotel is eye opening.


He shares a room with a loud mouth braggart and a black man who is much like Tim. Along the way he meets a prostitute and an assertive female agent from Nebraska who, along with his roommates, help him grow up a bit and deal with the convention.


Ed Helms stars as Tim, playing the straight man to John C. Reilly and Anne Heche, among others. This is a movie meant for adults with an “R” rating, the humor contains plenty of naughty bits that is funny in its place but not appropriate for younger members of the family.


I haven’t seen it yet. But from everything I have read, it reminds me of Barbershop starring Ice Cube. When I first saw this movie, I did not think there was much there. No car chases or big fight scenes but a picture of a neighborhood.


It was later when I saw it a second time that I realized what made Barbershop such a gem. The moments of joy, the moments of truth telling and crazy statements. People may not always get along and you wonder how it all stands together.  In the end it is about family – the one you are born into and the one you create.


This movie does have a PG-13 rating and single use of the f-bomb. Parents need to think about what they would allow their children to watch before putting in this selection.


Finally, if you are looking for a family-friendly ‘slice-of-life’ movie, one of my favorites is How to Eat Fried Worms.” The story revolves around a sixth grader who moves to a new school. Being the new kid he must get past the school bully. To do that the eating of worms are involved. The fun is seeing how a boy who has a very quesy stomach reacts to having to eat worms without throwing up. This is one movie I would watch with my younger children again and again.


Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.