Mestece Bloomington v Minnesoti, leto 1967. Larry je resni profesor fizike, ki ga tare cela vrsta težav. Hčerka mu krade denar, da bi si privoščila plastično operacijo nosu. Sin cele dneve gleda televizijo in kadi travo. Brat Arthur je na njegovem kavču že pognal korenine, žena pa nekega dne oznani, da ga bo zapustila zaradi ljubimca. Ker se Larry obenem otepa tudi finančnih težav, je ponudba njegovega študenta, ki mu je pripravljen dati podkupnino za pozitivno oceno na izpitu, precej mamljiva. Po pomoč se Larry zateče k trem rabinom, da bi mu svetovali, kaj narediti.
Bloomington, Minnesota, 1967: Jewish physics lecturer Larry Gopnik is a serious and a very put-upon man. His daughter is stealing from him to save up for a nose job, his pot-head son, who gets stoned at his own bar-mitzvah, only wants him round to fix the TV aerial and his useless brother Arthur is an unwelcome house guest. But both Arthur and Larry get turfed out into a motel when Larry's wife Judy, who wants a divorce, moves her lover, Sy, into the house and even after Sy's death in a car crash they are still there. With lawyers' bills mounting for his divorce, Arthur's criminal court appearances and a land feud with a neighbour Larry is tempted to take the bribe offered by a student to give him an illegal exam pass mark. And the rabbis he visits for advice only dole out platitudes. Still God moves in mysterious - and not always pleasant - ways, as Larry and his family will find out.