Needing a safe place to hide, Andrew, under disguise, attempts to contact his cousin (played by Keith Coogan) and his aunt (portrayed by Cryer's real-life mother), arranging to meet the latter at the high school at which she works as a nurse. While sitting in the nurse's office, he impulsively opts to enroll, taking the name of Maxwell Hauser (off of a Maxwell House coffee can) and begin high school all over again. He pulls his cousin, Patrick, aside and reveals himself, eventually using Patrick's house to sleep in, unbeknownst to his aunt.
Not willing to take adult teachers' attitude that he is merely a high school student, Andrew becomes a hero to those tired of the school's status quo upsetting Kevin O'Roarke (played by Tim Quill), the current class president, and capturing the heart of Ryan Campbell (Annabeth Gish). During an afternoon at the local diner, he accidentally drops a birthday card meant for his grandmother (who had raised him) and it gets mailed. Later, a hitman posing as an FBI agent contacts his grandmother and sees the card and its postmark, telling him where Andrew is hiding.
One night, on the way back from a date with Ryan, Patrick stops Andrew from entering the house. FBI agents have arrived, knowing Andrew is close because of his use of an ATM card. Patrick steals his mother's keys and Andrew ends up using the high school as his refuge. He meets the school janitor, Ezzard, and shares a drink with him, revealing who he truly is. Andrew embraces the opportunity to run for class president, not knowing the election committee has already decided to rig the results in favor of Kevin.
Bored with high school, Andrew decides to drop out. During the presentation of class election results, Kevin is announced the winner. However, Kevin demands a recount, which reveals that most want Andrew as President. As Morenski starts to address the crowd, a hitman begins firing at the stage. Ezzard, watching the proceedings, manages to dispose of one of the hitman, while the other moves up into the rafters of the gym. Andrew chases him and a spotlight is used to blind the hitman. The hitman loses his grip and falls to the gym floor below as police sirens are heard.
Images of graduation are spliced into images of Andrew taking the stand in a court against the mobster who he sold the bogus bonds for. After his testimony, Andrew is given a few minutes to say farewell to his grandmother before being placed in the Federal Witness Protection Program.
The last scene is of Ryan, sitting under a tree at college. Andrew, now known as Eddie Collins, appears from behind the tree and tells her he has decided to become a teacher. Morenski is reunited with Ryan as the credits roll.
Janet Maslin called the film "pleasant enough" with "mild" jokes that "revolving around things such as Mr. Cryer's accidentally giving tax advice to the father of a teen-age girl he's dating, or his feeling out of place at the roller rink"; she thought the film's coda suggests that "Mr. Cryer could have unexpected charm in more adult roles.
The Time Out Film Guide called the film "predictable, slackly plotted nonsense, marginally redeemed by a genial young cast.