The plot involves a recently-widowed 1950s father Manny Singer (Liotta) who works as an advertising agent hiring a housekeeper/nanny,Corrina Washington (Goldberg) to care for his young daughter, Molly (Majorino). While she eventually grows close to Molly, there is also an eventual undeniable mutual attraction between the two adults, in spite of the reactions of those around them.
It is also notable for being the last project of Oscar-winning veteran actor, Don Ameche, who played Manny's father and who died after filming was completed. The film is dedicated in his memory.
- All of the Other Reindeer: Molly is teased on her first day of school by her class for drawing Corrina instead of her mother, amongst other things.
- Been There, Shaped History: As an advertising agent, Manny apparently co-wrote the famous "Jell-O" jingle.
- Black Gal on White Guy Drama: Neither Manny nor Corrina's friends and relatives approve of their budding romance.
- Does Not Like Spam: Corrina's nephew cites how he dislikes many of the fillings of the chocolates that she brings them, including coconut.
- Fluffy Cloud Heaven: To console Molly about her mother, Corrina tells her that this is where she is. Afterwards, Manny corrects her by saying that she and him were atheists and to not inform her about being in a place that she wouldn't be. That being said, by the end of the film, Manny is seen tearfully talking to God about his wife, his recently-deceased father and his faith.
- Magical Negro: Downplayed: while Corrina really doesn't have any special powers, she does one thing that impresses Molly into thinking that she is where age can change the traffic lights to green by blowing a puff of wind.
- Marry the Nanny: Corrina is hired to nanny Manny's daughter Molly. Manny and Corrina find that they are compatible and strike up a relationship.
- Missing Mom: Manny's wife and Molly's mother, Annie, died right before the events of the film took place.
- Mundane Made Awesome: For her birthday after her grandparents told her they will take her to anywhere in the world that she wishes, she decides to go to the car wash, having been previously impressed by the mechanics of the process.
- N-Word Privileges: Molly, having overheard some restaurant patrons calling her and her father "nigger lovers", calls herself this while hugging her friend, accidentally believing it to be a compliment. Her friend gets insulted and calls her a "honky". This in turn offends her because she misheard it as "donkey". When another girl corrects her with the actual word, her friend yells at her for insulting her friend.
- Reality Ensues: As seen in Youre Not My Mother: even if Corrina's intentions were good, she still had no right to deny Molly her education or defy Manny. He's just as angry as any parent would be in his position.
- Smoking Is Not Cool: Molly is horrified about her father's smoking to the point of hiding his cigarettes. Justified by her seeing a public service announcement by the surgeon's general about the dangers of it, him being her only living parent and the fact that Corrina's own husband died whilst going to buy a pack of cigarettes.
- Youre Not My Mother: A subversion: after Manny learns that Corrina has been keeping Molly out of school due to the bullying she was enduring, he yells at her that she's not her mother and fires her on the spot.