Plot points may be revealed below.
Senator Bernadette Spence is thrilled to be coming home to Iowa for Christmas—her loving husband Owen, their daughter Marianne (home from college), and devoted housekeeper Dora will all be there.
Her campaign manager, the dashing, British (and possibly sinister?) Adrian is coming too. He sees an opportunity: they’ll use the quaint, homey setting for a family press conference to announce Bernadette’s candidacy for President.
The family is unimpressed. Mild-mannered Owen had been waiting for Bernadette’s political career to slow so he could go back to work as a veterinarian. And Marianne simply hates Adrian. “He’s ruining Christmas,” she insists. “Make him stop.” Perhaps least impressed is Marianne’s gender-ambiguous boyfriend Val. (No one is quite sure what to make of Val. He’s vegan, wears a cape, and his Buddhist practices are punctuated by snarky, judgmental commentary.)
Adrian grooms them all for a presidential run, always critical of their tendencies. Many of his strategies (like trying to pass Marianne off as his girlfriend, or bringing up old secrets to blackmail Dora) don’t land well, to say the least. Bernadette has long been wary of Adrian’s attempts to over-Americanize her, make her seem more “Apple Pie.” He wants her to go by Bernie instead of Bernadette, and say things like “Darnit—or even Butterfingers.” Then, he suggests that, to become a better podium speaker, she must tap into her inner sexuality; “to moan,” as he puts it. She tries to moan, hilariously—then runs off to the family barn with an idea. (We won’t give too much away, but… it involves a star-spangled bikini and a horse mask).
Ready to moan in the barn, she finds she’s not alone. Val is there meditating. Soon her husband and daughter show up, then Adrian. Bernadette panics; she doesn’t want to be seen in her vulnerable state, so she hides—and hides—and hides, narrowly evading discovery , from the haystack to the rafters. Through the ensuing farce, the family’s conflict with Adrian reaches a boiling point. There’s a pillow fight, a dance-off, some cross-dressing, a passionate and difficult-to-explain kiss, until Adrian finally reveals his (gasp!) dastardly plot for world domination! He walks out, and Bernadette emerges disillusioned. She devises a foil to Adrian’s scheme.
In the final madcap scene, Adrian gets his press conference—but it is completely sabotaged by the zany (and occasionally bloody) antics of Bernadette’s family. He’s evacuated (by helicopter!), and with Adrian out of the picture, Bernadette can hold the conference on her own terms: in celebration and love, with her family, just as they are. They decorate the Christmas tree, invite the press in for coffee, and announce her candidacy for President of the United States.