Since his wife left him, fireman Nick Savage raises his five boys alone. After another housekeeper deserts the impossible household, pa declares it's time they learn to become more self-sufficient, for their own good. They disagree, Jack makes his point making sure things get even sloppier. Nick won't cave in, so a battle in pigging out ensues. However Sam has a weak spot: the desperate virgin finally has a shot at a date, albeit it with their unattractive female neighbor.
Dad is notified of a failing grade for each son, Chris however gets five, which means his expulsion from the school team is getting closer, which would leave him without a chance for a college scholarship. Even Sam has a failure, for P.E., because he just can't climb the rope. T.J. gets coach to agree to let Sam pass if he tutors Chris. Sam dutifully sacrifices a date with Angela, whose parents are out, but his angelic patience wears out as Chris fails to concentrate or learn anything. A fight ensues, but when Chris gets Angela to tutor him, the results surprise ...
The adolescents sons care nothing for dad's professional fireman's pride. However when he's called on duty on his day off, they decide to taste the perks of the inform, like free shopping, and babe-swarms. Meanwhile the kid brothers find dad's fire station too boring even for their age. Then Nick is called to action, only to find his fake junior 'colleagues' on the (bar) scene of a premature childbirth.
When Nick finds a cigarette, he starves and bribes the boys till Kyle confesses. Faced with his own bad example, he promises to stop smoking too. Jimmy says talk is cheap, so the penalty is set: a nude run, public and sober. Meanwhile Sam joins crazy teacher Levitch's 'happy smile' choir, just because Angela is a member.
After dad's car radio obsession ruins Jack's date, the boys convince him to allow a second car, provided they raise the money, well half, which they manage. Uncle Jimmy is allowed to supervise the purchase, but a female seller suckers him into buying a motorcycle. The very test-ride proves the first of several painful experiences for the Savages, including pa's collection of ludicrous safety instruction movies starring officer Cox.
Chris left his biology homework so late that Sam can't help out and makes a stand after recognizing their former class pet frog Franklin. He still has to cut him open, is ridiculed as 'sissy' and gets a nightmare mission to save Franklin's successor, Lily. Kyle decide he's to old for trick and treat with his father and T.J. He insists that the big boys take him along for a daring Hollywood prank. They demand he thinks up a clever prank. Both problems meet head to head at night.
Tired of seeing Sam pine about Angela, Jack gets him a movie date, Erin. The problem is she never stops phoning and sending pictures to her friend Trish - but they kiss, and kiss. Chris has accepted a lame mall job, selling Quincy's glider toys. Kyle and T.J. are dumb enough to buy one, break it and demand their money back from Chris. Sam is too nice to dump Erin, knowing how that can hurt, but his gentle approach proves worse.
Now Sam's dream girl Angela has broken up with Britton Joffrey, he hopes to become her new boyfriend, but she asks him out strictly as a friend. The truth may work better. Chris and Jack attend the same church carnival, intending to find dates and spend not a penny too much, but that bill doesn't square. Kyle manages to get security at his heels repeatedly. Only T.J. is stuck home, having put off an essay on Lincoln. When he finally saves his file, the dog swallows his memory stick, which dad finds hard to believe, given the boy's lying record.
Since Nick no longer works on Friday evening, his boys take an active interest in his love-life to get him off their backs and out of the house. So they put his macho fireman identity on an Internet dating site, where uncle Jimmy posted himself- in bath. Nick is lured to a restaurant, resists the method, but at the bar bumps into Maggie. Back home, he tells the boys the encouraging news, but also that he pretended to have her dream family: just two kids. Gentile Sam and 'baby' TJ feel flattered, the three rascals act up jealously.
For once, his brothers are jealous of Sam now steady date Angela invites him to her parents' Thanksgiving diner. That requires bailing dad's favorite, boys-only holiday- even the Three Stooges TV marathon happens to be canceled. The other boys (well, the senior literally twisting the kids' arms) decide to surprise disappointed Nick with home-cooked turkey while he's called for a fire. Alas, the last bird on sale is alive, and sort of scary. Sam discovers picture-perfect families have their own drawbacks.
Nick puts the boys on annual leaves cleaning duty, so they 'warm up' playing rake-ball. Alas, neighbor witch Mrs. Riley confiscates every ball landing on her land, and guards it by beastly beating the boys with her cane. Only Kyle is dumb enough to try, and worse: he used pa's high-school triumph keepsake ball. After they try reasoning, begging and even doing her garden to get it back, she cheats them. Now it's war, escalating in pet-napping. Pa finally realizes his duty.
Kyle swears he doesn't want a girl-friend because dating turns real guys into wusses, ultimately like Sam, who even minds his Angela's poodle Sally Sue. However when Josie, the only girls who gets more detentions then Kyle, kisses him there, he's lost and commits more mischief to get extra detention. Attempts to hide it to the brothers prove futile. Remains the problem he promised a sled-ride to TJ on the day Josie wants to go out.
Nick decides the boys should learn the 'true spirit of Christmas' by earning money for presents with seasonal jobs. When TJ and Kyle protest they're too young, he finds worse torture: help collect and wrap gifts for 'needy kids', some neater than they expect. The older brothers eagerly apply in a lingerie shop, but find themselves mere stock-boys in a basement. Sam hides this for Amanda and does it so well he gets a chance at sales on commission, but the jealous brothers pull a fatal prank.