When John Farley returns to his small hometown, he is feeling pretty good about himself. He is about to receive an award for his book. When he finds out that his mother Beverly has been dating his abusive former gym teacher, Mr. Woodcock, his confidence is gone. In spite of his claims, Beverly insists that Woodcock treats her well and she is happy.
John sets out to prove to his mother she is wrong about Woodcock. He obtains a tape which seems to show Woodcock abusing a child, but when he shows it to his mother it's revealed to be fake. Later that day, they go to a county fair where John and Woodcock compete at different games. John suspects that Woodcock is cheating on his mother, so he goes to his apartment to investigate, but inadvertently witnesses the two having sex.
During the awards ceremony, John launches into a tirade about the suffering Woodcock has caused him, but it falls on deaf ears. Woodcock threatens to beat up John, causing Beverly to break up with him. She also reproaches John for not caring about her own feelings.
John attempts to apologize to Woodcock, but it descends into a final fight between them, in full wrestling attire. In the end they reconcile, and Woodcock and Beverly get back together with John's blessing.
Best part of story, including ending:
After spending most of the film portraying Woodcock as a cruel bully, the ending where everything is neatly resolved feels forced.
Best scene in story:
The carnival scene where John tries in vain to beat Woodcock at carnival games,culminating in the food eating contest.
Opinion about the main character:
The John Farley character isn't very interesting, he writes a self-help book after all. The highlight is Billy Bob Thornton as Jasper Woodcock, he's funny and threatening at the same time.