Moochie Dunlop likes to eat and her husband, Bud Arrington, likes to cook. Together with their loud-mouth parrot, Pretty Boy, they open their own restaurant in downtown Athens, Georgia. They find that chasing the American dream is not easy and can be dangerous when they find a large sum of money hidden in the walls of their new restaurant. Whose money is it?
Wilson Lumkin, owner of the Lumkin Cafe across the street, does not like the competition and tries to drive them out of business. He then discovers that Moochie and Bud found the old family fortune that he has been searching for all of his life. Trying to recover the money, he breaks into their restaurant, shoots at Bud and runs him off the road. He hires hoodlums to break in and find the money or burn the building. Bud is unconscious in the burning building and when Moochie knocks two firemen out of the way, and tries to rescue him, she and Bud almost perish. Their beloved parrot, Pretty Boy, is missing.
Pretty Boy is found safe, but Lumkin complains to the authorities and has him banned from inside the restaurant. Then, he hires a young boy to kidnap the bird. Pretty Boy who watches old movies every night and likes Clint Eastwood, wins the boy's heart by saying, "Go ahead, Punk. Make my day."
In the meantime, Moochie becomes famous for her healing hugs and saves Slapper Slocum, a merchant next door, by suggesting that he sell "I Survived a Moochie Hug" T-shirts. Bud, a veteran at hugging Moochie, writes instructions about how to survive one of her hugs. A copy will be given with each shirt.
Moochie is invited to be part of the Lay it on Grady radio show which is popular throughout North Georgia. She gives advice to the lovelorn such as: "Show him how much you love him and if he doesn't respond, his pilot lights done gone out. Get rid of his sorry ass." And to a new husband who is disappointed with his lazy and slovenly wife: "Pack her suitcase, load her in your pickup and drop her off at her mama's house for further training." The show becomes very popular and is syndicated nationally.
The national recognition inspires a middle school student to write a letter to the editor of the Detroit Free Press, proposing that Moochie run for President. Moochie for President clubs spring up throughout the country bringing comments about her by the Democratic and Republican candidates, and an interview by Morley Safer of 60 Minutes. It's not a serious campaign, but makes Moochie's Place wildly successful.
Bud gets a call from the grandmother of a thirteen-year-old girl, Ginger, who mistakenly believes that Bud is the girl's father. Bud goes to Meridian, Mississippi and finds a dying grandmother with the girl. He accepts the girl as his daughter and brings her back to Georgia.
Lumkin, relentlessly driven by an unforgiving father and becoming increasingly psychopathic, hires two men to kidnap Ginger and hold her as ransom for the money he thinks Bud and Moochie possess. Finally, at three-thirty in the morning, the call comes directing Bud to bring the money to the Oconee River Methodist Church and drop it off in return for the girl. The money has already been put into a foundation and is not available. The police devise a plan to drop fake money bags off behind the church while three policemen sneak into the church, wait for the kidnappers and attempt to arrest them. Bud hides in the bushes and watches as the attempted arrest goes terribly wrong with two policemen wounded and one kidnapper killed. The other kidnapper escapes and runs back to kill Ginger with Bud on his trail. Bud is shot and Ginger is almost killed before Lieutenant Edwards shoots the kidnapper. Bud and Ginger survive. Lumkin is desperate after his father threatens to take the business away from him. He waits for Moochie and Bud at their home, holds a gun to Moochie's head and orders them to take him to the money. Completely psychotic now, Lumkin thinks he is an FBI agent while talking to an imaginary fellow agent, Murphy. Bud tells Lumkin the money is at Moochie's Place. He drives them back there and goes up into the attic to get the non-existent money. He finds plastic bags and fills them with insulation, old fles and an iron skillet. While coming down the steps with the bags, Bud throws one, Lumkin reacts and Moochie drives her elbow into his abdomen causing him to drop the gun. Bud jumps on Lumkin, but is outmatched and Lumkin is choking him. Moochie rises from the floor and screams, "I'm here to eat ice cream or kick ass and I'm all out of ice cream." Her three-hundred pounds strike Lumkin in the back, sending him sprawling. Moochie lands on top of him. Bud turns the alarm on and the police arrest Lumkin.
Lumkin's influential father gets him out of jail, but on house arrest with an ankle bracelet, and on medication. The father calls Moochie and tries to pay them to drop the charges. They refuse. They are relieved, thinking that Lumkin is out of the way, and plan a celebration party on election night.
Bud's father, a homeless man that he has been looking for all his life, comes to the restaurant. Bud invites him in for a meal. There is discussion and the man reluctantly admits that he is Bud's father. Bud is very angry and asks him to leave, but feels bad later that night. He goes to Tent City the next day looking for his father and finds that he has died that morning. Bud forgives and arranges a respectful funeral for his father.
The election night celebration is held in the beautifully re-built and decorated restaurant which is filled to capacity with many more people standing outside. Moochie and Bud give speeches welcoming their guests and thanking them for their help in making Moochie's Place a great success. Lumkin's wife and son arrive unexpectedly and apologize for Lumkin's behavior.
Moochie and Bud forgive them and give them a hug. The noise of the crowd drops to a whisper as Wilson Lumkin strides in with an AK 47. He is in a full psychotic rage, firing into the ceiling and threatening to kill Moochie and Bud. The cowering crowd reacts again as Lumkin's father, Charles, enters and calls his son's name. Wilson Lumkin whirls and fires, striking his father in the shoulder and throwing him through the plate-glass window. Lumkin then turns, recognizing his wife and son and realizes what he has done. He puts the rifle in his mouth. Bud grabs the gun and yanks it away so the shot goes into the ceiling. Lumkin collapses to the floor. Bud's friend, Uncle Billy, says, "Lord God Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth, have mercy on our miserable souls."
Shaken but safe, Moochie and Bud gather with the restaurant crew, friends and family. Finally calm and still resolved, Moochie and Bud declare that tomorrow is another day and their hearts are still filled with love and hope.