Filmmaker Mark Columbus tells the story of Charlie Foster, a kid who moves to New Mexico for the sake of his cancer-stricken dad.
On the first day of school, Charlie walks into the playground and sits under a tree reading. Bobby Bell sees him and asks if he wants to play ball. Charlie learns the rules of the game and they start to play.
Bobby asks where he’s from and what his favorite food is. Then, he makes fun of Charlie’s ethnicity and asks if he likes tacos. He then takes the bullying further and tells Charlie to stand still against a wall before getting the kids to pelt him with the ball.
As Charlie walks home from school, he notices a dead bird on the side of the road. Death is on his mind and he pokes at it with a stick before heading home.
When he arrives, his dad asks if he’s made new friends. He hides the bullying because he doesn’t want to be a burden and goes to his room to read about cancer.
As months go by, Charlie spends his playground time reading up on the disease. He wants to do something — anything — to help his dad win his fight.
But one day, Bobby runs over and grabs his book. He takes a look and begins to rip out the pages.
His dad tries to comfort him by saying cancer is like a bunch of uninvited guests. He didn’t ask them to come — they just showed up one day and didn’t go home.
During basketball, Bobby purposely bumps into Charlie and asks if his dad has died yet. Charlie gets upset and pushes Bobby to the ground. The teacher sees Charlie’s action and pulls him aside.
Meanwhile, his dad’s condition continues to worsen. He heard what happened in school and tells Charlie that the fight with cancer is his fight — not Charlie’s. But he just runs off.
Charlie sees his mom by his dad’s bedside and goes over to lay next to him. Together, they hug him.
The next day, as Bobby sees Charlie and start to push him. Charlie takes to his dad’s advice and ignores it. But then, Bobby slaps him, knocking his glasses off. Fed up, Charlie snaps and pulls Bobby to the ground and starts punching him in the face repeatedly. Charlie takes his dad’s fight as his own.
We find out Charlie’s dad had died the day before. And as Charlie narrates the story as a grown-up, he tells us part of him still lies on the bed next to his dad, while another part is on the playground, hoping the fight with Bobby put him back together again.
James Franco executive produced this film.