Neal Oliver, a very confused young man and an artist (played by James Marsden) takes a journey of a lifetime on a highway I60 that doesn't exist on any of the maps, going to the places he never even heard of, searching for an answer and his dreamgirl.
Neal Oliver is a young artist, but his father doesn't like his choice and wants him to go to Oxford. Everything changes after Neal's meeting with O.W.Grant, who grants exactly one wish per person, as his name suggests. Neal wishes for answers, and so he must travel to the nonexistent Danver by the nonexistent Interstate 60. In this trip he hopes to find the girl of his dreams, following the trail of her photos on the advertising stands along the route. Many encounters await him ahead. Will he receive what he asked for?
- The story begins in a bar, where two men are discussing a thesis statement for an upcoming paper. One of them asserts that out of all the different realms of the world, America has no mythological character that grants wishes. Their conversation is interrupted by a man (Wayne Robson) who claims that they are wrong, and that such a character does exist. The man goes on to explain that this character is a man named O.W. Grant, the son of a Leprechaun and a Cheyenne Indian. The man explains that O.W. is more so apt to play tricks on people, but that every so often, he takes a shine to some of them. When the two men ask this stranger just what O.W. Grant looks like, the fellow replies that he wears a red bow tie, and smokes a pipe carved in the shape of a monkey-head. As the man leaves the two, he mentions that O.W. can be found along Interstate 60. The two men go to a nearby map, and after looking over the roadways, think the guy they were talking to must have been pulling there leg, as there is no Interstate 60.
The scene then cuts to real-as-life O.W. Grant (Gary Oldman), wearing a red bow tie, and smoking a pipe carved in the shape of monkey-head (just as the guy described). Going down a street, a guy in a parked car to his right opens the driver's side door, not realizing O.W. is about to pass alongside. O.W. falls from his bike, breaking the jaw on his monkey-head pipe. As the man apologizes and attempts to help him up, a truck comes along, running over Grant's bike, and destroying the man's cellular phone. The destruction of the cellphone causes the man to break into a fury, cursing how he wishes the incident had never happened. Grant asks if the man means the wish, and when the angered fellow replies positively, Grant places his pipe in his mouth, and green smoke envelopes the two of them.
The scene begins again, with Grant riding along the same path (though his monkey-head pipe is now broken). Just before Grant reaches the car, he stops. The man on the phone inside, gets out of the car... and steps right into the path of the oncoming truck. As Grant observes the ugly incident, he mutters to himself, "Some people just don't know what to wish for."
The scene then cuts to Neal Oliver (James Marsden), a young man from a wealthy family. However, while his father is a lawyer, Neal wishes to be an artist. On the day of his birthday, Neal (being unable to make up his mind), goes to a website to help him make his decisions. His girlfriend Sally (Melissa Ade) comes in, wishing him a Happy Birthday, and makes note of his little habits. These include how Neal peels his grapefruit instead of eating it with a spoon, and the myriad art pieces of a blonde-haired woman that Neal keeps drawing. Neal claims that he has no idea who she is, though.
The scene then cuts to Neal's birthday dinner, in which Sally, his Mom (Roz Michaels), Dad (John Bourgeois) and sister Stacy are in attendance. When Stacy asks what Neal's birthday wish was, Neal claims that telling a birthday wish is bad luck. Just then, a waiter (O.W. Grant himself) overhears this, and tells Neal that that superstition is an old wive's tale, and that it is best to tell such wishes. With this information, Neal tells his family and Sally, that he wished for 'an answer to his life.' Grant ponders this as he takes Neal's cake to be cut in the kitchen. Meanwhile, Neal receives gifts from his family, and two rather big surprises from his Dad. The first is an acceptance letter to a prestigious law school, and the other is a BMW. Though these gifts seem to reflect more so on Neal's Dad wanting his son to become like him, than to Neal's own particular tastes and interests. As the family is inspecting the car, a bucket falls from an overhead ledge, and hits Neal on the head, knocking him out.
Neal later awakes in the hospital. Shortly after he has awoken, he is visited by a doctor named Ray (Christopher Lloyd). Ray then plays an identification game with Neal, showing him cards, and having Neal guess the suit (Club, Diamond, Spade, or Heart). Neal thinks he's passed, until Ray reveals that there are red spades and black hearts in the deck. Ray then explains to Neal that not everything is what it seems. After Ray leaves, another doctor comes in, claiming he's there to test Neal. When Neal mentions Ray's appearance, the new doctor explains there's no one on staff by that name.
Once he has recovered, Neal goes out for Chinese food with some friends and Sally. Neal is still unsure about the law school interview, but Sally thinks it's a good idea. As their fortune cookies are opened, Neal is surprised at his fortune: "October 15th. Are you sure?" This is the exact date of his law school interview. When one of his friends looks at the fortune, the paper appears to now be blank!
Neal soon after returns to his late-night job of working in a warehouse, prepping food to be sent to local supermarkets. As he takes a break with another worker (John Henry Cavanan), their eyes alight on some billboards. Neal is shocked to see the girl he's been drawing appearing on one of the billboards. He assumes this must be where he got the idea to draw her: he saw her on a billboard, and that stuck in his head. His co-worker suggests that Neal try to find out who she is, and he takes the advice.
The next day, Neal calls the billboard company, only to find that the billboard space is still for sale, and nothing is there. Neal thinks this must be a mistake. He drives back to the same spot, and sees the same girl on the billboard, only now, she has a phone number listed. Neal calls the number, and an automated voice tells him he has an appointment the next day at a specific building on the 13th floor, at 10am.
Curious as to this whole thing, Neal goes to the building, only to find it doesn't have a 13th floor. Inside an elevator, he finds the same girl on an advertisement, that prompts him to push the '3' and '10' buttons on the control panel. This leads Neal to the non-existent 13th floor, where he encounters Ray again. Ray claims he has an assignment for Neal: he wants him to deliver a package. Upon reviewing the package, addressed to a Robin Fields, Neal mentions the name of the town (Danver) is misspelled. Ray just shrugs this off, and explains the terms of the delivery: If Neal wishes to go through with it, he must deliver the package on a specific date, and not open it or try to find out what's inside it. Neal decides to go through with the delivery, and signs a contract with Ray, as well as putting a drop of blood as well, as a sign that he is serious. Just before he leaves, Ray mentions that there is a killer on the loose, and gives Neal a playing card with a red spade on it. When Neal presses for more information, Ray refuses to divulge anything more. As he leaves, Ray mentions that Neal can find the town of Danver along Interstate 60.
Neal checks several maps, and his local AAA, but there doesn't appear to be an Interstate 60. Throwing caution to the wind, he sets out West, just hoping to find it. However, he soon finds a billboard with the same girl on it, feeling it's a sign that he's on the right track. Shortly afterwards, he comes across O.W. Grant. Neal recognizes Grant from the restaurant, and is surprised when the man requests a ride, and presents Neal with a birthday present. This turns out to be a Magic 8-Ball, that Grant says can answer any Yes or No questions.
As the two take off, Grant reveals more about himself. The O.W. stands for "One Wish." Grant was intrigued by Neal's wish to find 'an answer,' and that brought him into the young man's life. O.W. then instructs Neal to take several turns, and soon, they are on the non-existent Interstate 60.
After discussing about possibilities and choices, the two end up in a little diner. As they sit in a booth, a man (Wayne Robson) enters the establishment (the same man who told the two men in a bar about O.W.). The man goes to the counter and orders 15 double-cheeseburgers. When he says he's going to eat them at the restaurant, the waitress doesn't believe him. The man then changes his order to an even larger serving of various foods. A man next to him wants to wager that this hungry fellow can't finish all his food, and pretty soon, people in the bar are taking bets on it. Neal asks the 8-ball if the man is really going to eat all the food he ordered. When the 8-ball answers an affirmative, Neal makes a bet on a sure-thing.
True to his word, the man finishes the entire meal, and the man who bet against him wants to know his secret. The man then explains (with an eye on O.W. in the corner), how he used to always want to sample everything on a restaurant's menu, but was often frustrated with the size of his stomach. One day, he made a wish, that caused him to now have the equivalent of a 'black hole' in his stomach. The problem is, due to this, he has to eat meals of this size 4-6 times a day, which can get expensive. So, he expects people to make wagers on this, and that is how he pays for these extra-large meals. Overhearing this, Neal asks if the man still enjoys food, to which the man replies in the negative, before leaving.
As Neal prepares to leave, a local Sheriff who was in the room stops him, saying how it seems that Neal was in on the whole thing, as he wholeheartedly put down so much money, and that it seems that his friend was in on the scheme. The Sheriff then requests Neal give over all his money, and Neal and O.W. leave with no money in their pockets.
As they drive along Interstate 60 again, Grant reveals to Neal that due to an unfortunate accident, he has been castrated. Neal doesn't believe this, until Grant shows him. Shortly afterwards, the two encounter a young woman named Laura (Amy Jo Johnson), who has made it a hobby to try and sleep with as many people as possible, trying to find perfection. She attempts to entice Neal, but he refuses, claiming that he'll now be the one that got away, and how this will bug her for the rest of her life, if he was the perfect one or not. Neal enjoys this little mind game, which infuriates Laura. When she attempts to see if O.W. will 'play ball,' the trickster surprises her with his non-existent equipment, and she storms off in a huff. Both O.W. and Neal then share a laugh at their little game.
As afternoon turns to night, the two encounter a woman named Susan Ross (Rebecca Jenkings), who claims that her son took her car. It is here that O.W. exits Neal's car, and suggests that he help the woman find her son. Neal and Susan head to the nearest town, which has numerous warnings about a substance called Euphoria. Upon entering the town, they see numerous camps, and buses leaving for a rave party in the city. There are some teens that are out and about, but they are doing menial tasks.
Neal and Susan make it to the rave, where they are once again informed about Euphoria and it's effects, and that it is being served inside. They enter, and soon find Susan's son, Philip (Tyler Kyte). Susan pleads with her son to go, but he says he wants to stay. A scuffle ensues, and Susan and Neal are brought before Police Captain Ives (Kurt Russel) in his office.
Ives explains how there were numerous problems with crime in the town. With the advent of the substance known as Euphoria, the once rampant teenagers changed: the substance allowed them to party all night, but then ran their system down by day. This strange substance managed to eliminate crime, but made whoever took it happy but dependent on Euphoria. Susan is saddened that it seems she's lost her son to this chemical. When she asks Neal what to do, he suggests that she try to stay for her son's well-being. Susan grabs a tube of Euphoria, and ingests it, soon acting as happy as the others.
Ives offers Euphoria to Neal, who refuses. He then offers Neal a 'finders fee' for bringing Susan and her son to the town. Neal refuses the money, but takes the request to lodge in town for the night.
The next day, Neal encounters a man hitchhiking on the side of the road, named Bob Cody (Chris Cooper). Cody requests a ride from Neal, but gives several conditions that Neal has to follow. Neal obliges, and the two begin to discuss things. Bob is a man who sees through numerous lies, and just wants the truth. This is seen as he takes note of several ads on the local radio (for example: he faults one that says a car is made with pride in the USA, when in fact the vehicle contains numerous parts that are from companies outside the USA).
The two eventually stop for gas, and Bob is asked by a man for help. The man (Billy Otis) is holding a sign that says, 'Will Work For Food.' Bob offers the man an apple to wash Neal's car. The man refuses, and Bob mentions how the man appears to be delivering a lie: he says he will work for food, but he is refusing to provide a service for the apple. The man then gets irate and throws the apple away. Bob admits that since the man took the food, he is now obligated to wash the car. The man angrily pulls a knife on Bob, but Bob shocks the man (as well as Neal and the station attendant), by revealing a ring of dynamite and a timer on his belt. Bob delivers his ultimatum: the man has 10 seconds to agree to wash Neal's car, or the detonator will go off. The man gives in and washes the car, much to everyone's relief.
Neal and Bob finally arrive at their destination, and Bob thanks Neil for adhering to his policy of honesty and playing by the rules. Bob gives Neal his business card before the two part ways. However, before leaving the town, he stops at a place called 'The Museum of Art Fraud.' It's curator there asks Neal for help immediately. As they watch a group walk through a small collection of great art, Neal is then asked (once the group is gone), to take them into another room, where they are explained to be copies. The group of people (oblivious to the fact that they had just seen the same works of art), express haughty comments and criticisms, claiming these 'copies' have faults compared to the other art pieces they saw.
Once the group leaves, the curator (Jane Moffat) explains to Neal that these pieces are actually the originals. Her husband had a technique that allowed him to perfectly copy the famous pieces, and that the pieces in the large galleries around the world are all frauds, whereas the Museum of Art Fraud contains the originals. As they pass by a painting, the curator points out that the man in the painting is her husband. Neal is shocked to see that the curator's former husband was O.W. Grant himself.
Once finished, Neal continues on his way to Danver. However, he soon finds himself at a crossroads, and heads towards a town called Havelock. He has not gotten within 10 ft of the city limits when he is pulled over by a cop, who says that Neal has been accused of running over a citizen's dog. Neal contests that he has never been in this town before, but is ordered to park his car and head into town.
It soon turns out that Havelock is entirely populated by lawyers, who end up suing themselves and anyone who sets foot in the town. Neal is soon taken up with an attorney named Valerie McCabe (Deborah Odell). After 'hiring her,' he soon finds that his trial time will put him beyond that time needed to deliver his package to Danver, and is soon locked up to keep him from attempting to leave.
In the local jail, Neal sees in a cell some ways down from his, the same blonde woman he's been drawing, and appeared on the billboards. Neal catches her attention, and claims he's going to get her out. At first unsure how to do this, Neal then remembers the card that Bob gave him.
Bob arrives the next day to act as a witness to Neal. However, when Bob soon finds out about the 'white wash job' that the town is giving to people, he reveals his dynamite and detonator (which was Neal's plan all along). This causes the Judge (Ken Kramer) to dismiss the case, and order all persons being held under false charges be released.
Neal soon after is there for the release of the woman in his pictures, though the first thing from her mouth a rather mawkish, expletive-filled voice. Neal attempts to ignore this, but soon says that he can't stand her attitude and vocal tone. It is then that she reveals this was a test, to see if he would be honest about his feelings.
As they head back to Neal's car, the woman reveals that her name is Lynn (Amy Smart), and that she had meet O.W. Grant previously. However, when she wished to meet the perfect guy, she didn't expect to spend a year in jail to do so. As they talk, they soon realize how much they have in common.
On their way out of Havelock, they come to a fork in the road, by a hotel. As Neal mentions how he has to get to Danver, Lynn remembers a note that O.W. gave her. Checking the note, it cautions her not to go. Both are a bit perplexed by this, and instead decide to spend the night at the hotel.
The next day, Neal has spent the night working on a painting of the motel where he's spending the night. Neal considers backing out on his deal with Ray, but Lynn suggests that he still go, and she will stay at the hotel waiting for him to come back.
Neal continues on his way, but has second thoughts about leaving Lynn. He tries to use his car's phone, but the signal strength is too weak. Pressing on, the radio gives information about a killer that has been spotted in the area. This happens just as Neal pulls up to a roadside checkpoint. The radio describes the perpetrator's vehicle as a red BMW with white paint on the trunk. The vehicle almost matches Neal's, except for the white paint. Neal then takes off from the checkpoint, breathing a sigh of relief.
Some ways away, Neal pulls into a gas station, attempting again to call the hotel and Lynn. However, just as he gets some way from the car, a Jeep pulls up, and some guys throw a paint balloon at his BMW, leaving a large white splotch of paint on the trunk! Neal attempts to wipe off the paint, but finally panics and drives off. Attempting to get to Danver, Neal keeps driving, but now the reports talk of a suspicious package the murderous driver has. This causes Neal to wonder about his own package. Desperately, he asks his Magic 8-ball for answers, but it refuses to give him direct answers.
Finally unsure what to do, Neal drives off-road, before pushing his car over a cliff. As he watches it for a few moments, a helicopter suddenly flies overhead. In the distance, Neal sees a red BMW like his own, speeding along a highway before erupting into a fireball as it collides with a Police barricade.
Neal goes to investigate the crash, but there's not much left of the car or the driver. When Neal asks who the guy was, an officer (Ross Collins) says that the man killed his father and then attempted to escape. Neal believes this was a 'what-if' vision if he did go along with what his Dad wanted, vs what he wants. As he attempts to ask the 8-ball what he should do next, Neal suddenly realizes he can make his own decisions, and throws the toy away.
Neal eventually gets a ride to Danver, and finds himself at the proper location. He is at first surprised to see Ray there, but is even more surprised to find O.W. Grant there as well. Grant explains that his nickname is Robin Fields, and that he sent the package to himself, as a test to see if Neal really would complete his task. Grant then opens the package to reveal it's contents: a new monkey-head pipe! As Neal watches, green smoke emerges from the pipe, and Neal suddenly finds himself back in the hospital. At first thinking it was only a dream, a playing card on the bedside table that mentions the hotel's name where he and Lynn stayed, confirms it was real.
Once Neal gets out of the hospital, he goes to his Dad's office, saying that he will not go for the interview, and will live his life by his own decisions. As he is about to leave, his sister Stacy appears, wanting him to go to a local art gallery.
This strikes Neal as an odd thing to do, given that he didn't enter anything in the gallery's recent competition. However, upon entering the gallery, Neal finds the painting he made of the hotel on a wall. It is then that O.W. Grant appears again, claiming to have entered it in competition on Neal's behalf. As they talk, Neal is approached by Lynn (the very same as before), who works for a company that would like Neal to do paintings of roadside motels for their business. Though she claims she has never met Neal, she swears he seems somewhat familiar. Neal admits to the same.
Nearby, Stacy and Grant watch the two talk. Grant then turns the conversation to Stacy, who he claims has a birthday coming up. "Don't forget to make a wish," he tells her and let him know.