When African-American professional Andrew Sterling (Samual L. Jackson) moves into a summer home on an up-tight all-white New England resort island, the snoopy white neighbors are sure he must be breaking and entering. They call the cops who get too rambunctious and break into Sterling's limo, tripping its security alarm. When Sterling shows up to stop the alarm and pulls out his keys to open the car, a skittish cop thinks he's pulling a gun and opens fire. Now things are really a mess, because not only have these cops screwed up big-time, they've screwed up big-time in an election year when their Police Chief (Dabney Coleman) just happens to be running for re-election. This mess-up smacks too much as a race-inspired melee, so Chief Tolliver arranges a cover-up to keep his reputation intact. He hires a drifter to pose as a thief so the cops will have a legitimate reason for "protecting" the vacationing Sterling. Things continue to complicate in this airbrush farce, that attempts to lighten with laughter, the delicate and combustible subject of American race relations.