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.
High school senior Bobby Chrystal fails his French class, which will block him from entering Yale. His rich, authoritarian father hires an attractive 29-year-old to tutor Bobby over the summer and help him pass a make-up exam.
Meet Joel Goodson, an industrious, college-bound 17-year-old and a responsible, trustworthy son. However, when his parents go away and leave him home alone in the wealthy Chicago suburbs with the Porsche at his disposal he quickly decides he has been good for too long and it is time to enjoy himself.