Lance (Robin Williams) is a high school English teacher who longs to become a famous author.
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He lives with his loser son Kyle (Daryl Sabara), who is rude, nasty and obsessed with sex, and is in a non-committed relationship with Claire (alexis Gilmore), another teacher who is also seeing another faculty member. Lance's closest friend is Andrew, a student who comes to his house to avoid his substance abusing mother.
One night, after coming home from a date with Claire, Lance finds Kyle dead of auto-erotic asphyxiation, in front of a photo he snuck of Claire's panties. In order to save Kyle from embarrassment, he makes it look like Kyle hung himself and fabricates a suicide note.
After the beautifully written note is leaked and becomes printed in the school paper, Kyle becomes a postmortem star, and Lance continues to pass fabricated entries from Kyle's journal, portraying him as a haunted and brilliant young man.
Kyle's popularity skyrockets, gaining national attention. Book publishers want to publish his “writings.” Lance enjoys the attention his writing is receiving, as well as the renewed interest Claire has in him, but is plagued with guilt over what he has done.
And when the principal announces a new library will be named after Kyle, Lance has to decide whether to continue to hide his secret, or announce the truth to the world before it gets any more out of hand.