The film, titled with a phrase used in trade advertisements to promote films for awards such as the Academy Awards, revolves around three actors (played by Catherine O'Hara, Parker Posey, and Harry Shearer) who learn that their performances in the film Home for Purim, a drama set in the mid-1940s American South, are generating award-season buzz.
Many of the cast return from This Is Spinal Tap, Waiting for Guffman, Best in Show, and A Mighty Wind, including Eugene Levy, Michael McKean, Fred Willard, Bob Balaban, Jennifer Coolidge, Jane Lynch, Ed Begley Jr., Michael Hitchcock, John Michael Higgins and Jim Piddock. Ricky Gervais, the co-creator of the British television series The Office, also appears, while John Krasinski and Sandra Oh make brief cameos. Whilst the dialogue is largely improvised by the actors as in Guest's earlier films, the format is a departure from the mockumentary style.
The film received its World Premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 10, 2006. It was produced by Warner Independent Pictures in association with Castle Rock Entertainment and Shangri-La Entertainment
O'Hara plays veteran actress Marilyn Hack who, despite having been in the industry for 30 years, is best known for playing a blind prostitute in a film from the late 1980s. Her co-star Victor Allen Miller (Shearer) is also an acting veteran who is known to the public as the hot-dog wearing mascot for a kosher line of frankfurters. Together they are cast as the patriarch and dying matriarch of a southern U.S. Jewish family in the 1940s.
Posey, as newcomer ingenue Callie Webb, plays their lesbian daughter who has come home along with her girlfriend (Rachael Harris). Rounding out the cast is Christopher Moynihan as actor Brian Chubb, who plays her brother who has returned home from the Navy. The family reunites in time to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Purim.
The film-within-a-film's plot centers around the daughter's confession of her lesbianism as her mother gets nearer to death. As the filming continues, Oscar buzz begins around all of the cast (with the exception of Chubb). Each of them begins obsessing about the award potential in their own way. Hack pretends not to care while secretly pining for the award. Miller begins to demand a higher salary and more prolific work. Webb breaks up with Chubb (her boyfriend), claiming he is not being supportive and he is virtually left in the dark.
At this point studio executives butt in and force the writers to make script changes, feeling the film is "too Jewish". Ultimately the film is retitled Home for Thanksgiving. Despite the changes, the Oscar buzz intensifies to the point where Hack, Miller, and Webb are convinced they will be nominated for Academy Awards. They all begin to do major press appearances for the film. These are often embarrassing, both for the actors and the movie audience. In one scene, Miller appears on a hip-hop teen show called Chillaxin' in youthful attire with capped teeth, a tan and dyed blonde hair. In an attempt to reflect her Oscar-worthy status, Hack gets breast implants and extensive plastic surgery to the point where her face is comically ecstatic.
Ultimately the only person nominated for an award is Chubb for Best Supporting Actor, who was the one person for whom there was no buzz at all. (He sleeps in on the morning of the announcement of the nominations.) Hack (after an explosive rant on live TV) becomes an acting teacher. Miller goes back to auditioning for food commercials, and other infomercials. Webb revives her failed one-woman show No Penis Intended.