New York entomologist Mel Coplin (Ben Stiller) is having a mid-life crisis. He knows he is adopted, and has been content to accept his adopted parents (Mary Tyler Moore and George Segal) as his own – until now.
He loves his wife, Nancy (Patricia Arquette) and their newborn baby son but feels his life is incomplete without knowing his biological parents.
He enlists the help of professional “finder” Tina Kalb (Rea Leoni), a psychologist from an agency where Mel was adopted. She volunteers to track down his birth parents, provided she can tag along to record the journey for her doctoral thesis.
And so they all set out on a cross-country trek that brings them more surprises than they bargained for.
The trip develops into an escalating series of disasters as it becomes clear that the adoption agency’s record-keeping leaves much to be desired.
During the trip, Mel and Nancy’s marriage is tested as Mel finds himself lusting after the gorgeous Tina.
Nancy feels erotic stirrings of her own when the trio meets up with an old high school friend of hers, Paul (Josh Brolin), who still carries a torch for her.
Along the way, the list of Mel’s prospective parents includes an unhappy San Diego housewife (Celia Weston) obsessed with her knick-knack collection, and a scruffy, demented truck driver (David Patrick Kelly) who is on the run from the law and teaches Mel how to drive an 18-wheeler just well enough to plow it into a US post office.
Mary Tyler Moore gives a raucous comedy performance as the clinging adoptive mother with tons of attitude and nerves of steel, and late in the film, two seemingly mismatched actors – Lily Tomlin and Alan Alda – become one of the funniest married couples you’ll ever see.
Mary Tyler Moore
Agent Tony Kent
David Patrick Kelly
John Ford Noonan
Shawn Michael Howard
David O. Russell