dvd reviews

June 16, 2011 |

By Jared Curtis


‘Cedar Rapids’

Directed by Miguel Arteta

Rated R, 87 minutes


Ed Helms has come a long way from “The Daily Show” correspondent to Stu, the tooth-pulling dentist in “The Hangover.” But he finally gets his time to shine in “Cedar Rapids.” Unfortunately, John C. Reilly is a force to be reckoned with and steals all of Helms’ leading man thunder. Tim Lippe (Helms) is an insurance salesman who lives in a small town with no desire to ever leave. But when he is forced to represent his company at an insurance conference in Cedar Rapids, he discovers an entirely new world exists outside his sheltered life. Helms is decent as Lippe, but what really makes “Cedar Rapids” pop is Reilly. His role as the pompous party animal Dean Ziegler is amazing. He curses like a sailor, drops sexual innuendos, flings hilarious one-liners with ease and is the main reason to take a trip to “Cedar Rapids.” CV


‘Hard Eight’

Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson

1996, Rated R, 102 minutes


John C. Reilly is one of the best actors working today. For years he has been giving prominent dramatic performances (“Magnolia,” “The Good Girl”), while creating laugh-out-loud characters (“Step Brothers,” “Talladega Nights” and Dr. Steve Brule on “Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!”) with ease. One of his finest performances is in director Paul Thomas Anderson’s (“Boogie Nights”) first feature, “Hard Eight.” Although the story focuses on Sydney (Philip Baker Hall), an aging gambler, Reilly shines as the down-on-his-luck John. Sydney meets John, who is broke, outside a diner and together the pair head to Reno as Sydney offers an education on grinding out a living as a gambler. John begins to grow into his own, but that soon changes when he meets a cocktail waitress named Clementine (Gwyneth Paltrow). Problems ensue. “Hard Eight” is an amazing tale of deceit and lust. Just watch out for a matchbook combusting in your pocket. CV