When I was a kid, my sister and I talked about jobs we wouldn't do. And my top-of-the-list job was: insurance salesman. Icky poo!
I'm here to tell you: I was a jerky little kid. This movie convinced me of that. Here's the protagonist, Tim Lippe, explaining his career choice:
I lost my dad in a sawmill accident when I was six years old.… But the insurance agent fought like a tiger with the sawmill to make sure my mom and I were taken care of, and we were. And I remember thinking, when I was a kid, I was just like: "This guy is a hero." I gotta say, I think insurance agents get a bum rap.That quote is delivered absolutely straight, without a speck of mockery, or even meta-mockery. And it made me feel guilty about a smart-ass remark I made decades ago.
Anyway: Tim is played by Ed Helms, and he's a decent, if slightly naïve, guy, just fine with being an insurance guy in Brown Valley, Wisconsin. He's carrying on a torrid affair with an older divorcee—she used to be his social studies teacher when he was in seventh grade!—but it's pretty clear his intentions are honorable.
Due to an unfortunate-but-sordid fatal accident befalling his superiors, he's picked at the last minute to represent the agency at the big shindig in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
The gathered insurance agents treat Cedar Rapids as if it were Las Vegas, an occasion for drunken partying and shenanigans. Tim (of course) tries to stay above that; he's blissfully clueless when approached by a Cedar Rapids hooker, and inept at dealing with Joan Ostrowski-Fox, an agent from Omaha looking to sow a few wild, but well-insured, oats.
But things eventually get wildly out of hand. (As the MPAA says, it's rated R for "crude and sexual content, language and drug use.") It's a lot of fun to watch. Ed Helms was a brilliant choice.
Consumer note: not actually filmed in Cedar Rapids. IMDB says: Ann Arbor, Michigan. So, they couldn't call it Ann Arbor?