Shaun Brumder (Hanks) is an affable teenager with a serious love for surfing. But when one of his surfing buddies has a freak accident,
Shaun decides to rethink his future. After reading the novel Straight Jacket, he becomes obsessed with the book, leading to a
new goal -- to become a writer.
Working hard at school and bumping up his grades, Shaun hopes to be accepted into Stanford University, where the author of his beloved book teaches.
But when he is rejected and discovers that his guidance counsellor (Tomlin) sent Stanford the transcript of another student, Shaun, with the help of his
dysfunctional family, does whatever he can to get back on the road to becoming a Stanford graduate.