Rick Irons (Robert Pierce) moves to Hawaii to live in paradise; surf the gigantic waves. At a party, Rick meets Alma (Maureen McCormick) who quickly becomes a love interest. While dating Alma, he begins to train for the United States surfing title. As Rick's life is racing to the top on the outside, he personally feels like the bottom is falling out on the inside.
The film portrays a fictional nuclear war between NATO forces and the Warsaw Pact that rapidly escalates into a full scale exchange between the United States and the Soviet Union, focusing on the residents of Lawrence, Kansas, and Kansas City, Missouri, as well as several family farms situated next to nearby nuclear missile silos.
Kevin Kline and Glenn Close star as Harold and Sarah Cooper, a couple whose marital troubles are put on hold while they host an unhappy reunion of former college pals gathered for the funeral of one of their own, a suicide victim named Alex.