Dustin Hoffman is Bernie, a selfish nasty guy who barely shows up at his ex-wife's to spend time with his kid. One night as he is driving to her house to fulfill his parental duty, he sees a downed plane in a field. Irritated but grudgingly acknowledging he should do the right thing, he pries open the door to free the passengers. He goes in and finds the unconscious Gale (Davis), who is a newscaster back from an awards show. Seeing everyone to safety, Bernie hails a cab and continues on his way.
Gale goes on TV looking for her hero. The cabdriver to whom Bernie told his tale then takes credit. He is handsome, seems nice and apparently saved an entire airplane full of people -- a media dream! Bernie sees all this on TV and gets aggravated to no end. But no one believes him that he did such a heroic deed.
The farce continues till it is indeed discovered, through a convoluted turn of events, who the real hero is. Mostly, thouh, Bernie wants to prove to his son that he can do a good thing every now and then, even if people won't believe you. As he philosophizes, the world is just layers of "poop". You peel through the layers till you find "poop" you can live with, and then that's your "poop"!!!