Ben Mercado is a talented high school senior who enrolls in a prestigious art school in order to realize his dreams of becoming an animator. However, his plans come into conflict with those of his immigrant father Roland, a postal worker intent on seeing Ben become a doctor.
Their long-simmering feud (for Ben a struggle to fit into American life and reject his Filipino heritage; and for Roland, a quest to give his children a better life than he had) threatens to boil over and ruin the elaborate 18th birthday party of Ben's sister Rose.
However, it is at the party where everything starts to change for Ben - his sense of misplaced identity, his choice of friends, even the way he regards his father. Most importantly, he finds a confidante (and perhaps a love interest) in Rose's best friend Annabelle. However, Ben isn't out of the woods by any means.
The arrival of the Mercado family's browbeating patriarch exacerbates the tensions between father and son, while the prospect of ditching the relatives to "make it" with a blonde-haired lasse at a kegger across town tugs at Ben throughout the evening.
Worse, his budding romance with Annabelle is complicated by the presence at Rose's party of hot-headed Augusto, a former boyhood friend-turned gangsta wannabe and Annabelle's ex. With all these factors tearing at Ben, something (or someone) is bound to explode at Rose's party ...