The plot follows Marilyn Hack (Catherine O'Hara), a 30-year-veteran of Hollywood who has yet to catch a break. She is able to land the lead role in Home For Purim, playing the dying matriarch of a Southern Jewish family in the 1940s. Also joining her are Victor Allen Miller (Harry Shearer), a former stage actor who has been reduced to doing commercial voice-overs, playing her husband; Callie Webb (Parker Posey) an off-Broadway comedienne, playing her recently out daughter; and newcomer Brian Chubb (Christopher Moynihan) as her son, home from the Navy.
Despite a highly eccentric and demanding director (Guest) and a producer (Jennifer Coolidge) whose only contribution is that she can write checks, awards buzz begins to surround the movie, with Marilyn and Callie's names being considered for Best Actress, while Victor is supposedly being considered for Best Actor. All three soon begin to develop egos, and take great pride in knowing that they will soon be Academy Award nominees. When the nominations are formally announced, however, only Brian, who has received next to no attention, has been nominated for an award, for Best Supporting Actor. The other three quietly return to their mundane careers.
Tropes associated with the work:
- Ambiguously Brown: Parodied. Even though he looks completely white, Corey Taft (John Michael Higgins) insists that he is in-fact 1/8th Native American ("mighty Choctaw!") and uses it as an excuse to dress in conspicuous Native attire.
- Artistic License – Religion: Parodied: The in-universe writers are admittedly unfamiliar with Jewish tradition. It shows.
- Best Known for the Fanservice: In-universe. In her entire career, Marilyn's most memorable role was playing a blind prostitute decades ago.
- Dueling Works: In-universe. Home for Purim gets rechristened Home for Thanksgiving, which sets it against the historical film The Pride of Plymouth Rock as an Oscar Bait movie about Thanksgiving.
- Frozen Face: Marilyn decides to get a makeover including overdone facial plastic surgery in anticipation of her Oscar win, and can barely move her facial muscles outside of a gr8macing smile as a result.
- Irony: The resolution of the plot. The one actor on the hyped film who wasn't rumored for an Oscar was the only one to receive a nomination from the Academy, and, not expecting anything, didn't even hear the news on awards night.
- Kick the Dog: After Marilyn, Victor, and Callie learn that they weren't nominated after all the hype, Fred Willard's character shows that he chose not to speak with nominees and instead decided to interviews those not nominated live the next morning to get their reactions while they're upset and/or hungover.
- Meaningful Name: Marilyn by the end of the film. She goes from a frustrated but modest actor to someone devastated by the loss of a dream that took over her mind, ending up as an over-inflated acting coach without the talent (or facial expression, due to her dodgy plastic surgery) to really produce talented actors under her. She loses the beauty and talent she had in the wanting for more, and Marilyn Hack is a hack actor and a hack Marilyn (Monroe) at the end of the story.
- Misaimed Marketing: In-universe (parodied). Not wanting to deter Gentile audiences from seeing a movie deemed too Jewish to be relatable, halfway through production, the film is retitled Home for Thanksgiving, despite the plot remaining the same. We also see concerns about this in a design meeting for the poster. In one with the characters' faces over treats held on a tray by Esther, Whitney thinks the plot is about the mother killing her children and baking them into cookies—which she'd happily watch, but which obviously communicates the wrong idea.
- Once Done, Never Forgotten: Despite being a respected stage veteran for 40 years, all that most people remember of Victor was playing a tv-pitchman for kosher hotdogs early in his career.
- Oscar Bait: Home for Thanksgiving, as well as the period piece Pride of Plymouth Rock.
- Posters Always Lie: A working poster for the film is a Norman Rockwell-esque painting featuring an obviously Jewish family dinner. Executive Meddling changes it to something more ambiguous.
- Small Name, Big Ego: None of the actors has exactly amounted to much over their careers, but their opinions of themselves swell dramatically the more the rumour that one of them might win an Oscar spreads.
- Spiritual Successor: To Waiting for Guffman, Best in Show, and A Mighty Wind. While otherwise very similar, it's the first of the films to drop the mockumentary format.
- Stylistic Suck: Home for Purim is a stylistically outdated melodrama with less nuanced acting than even the 1930s-40s pictures it sounds like it's going for, and its production certainly doesn't help it as its consistency is torn apart by executives and script and directorial shifts. This has its own comedic flavor while also suiting the tone of a film that everybody who's working on it comes to believe is better than it is.
- Technologically Blind Elders: The middle-aged Marilyn and most of the film crew don't really get the Internet and how it works, and this leads to them misunderstanding a fan's personal opinion that their unreleased film might be an Oscar contender as a rumor worth taking seriously. This spirals and overtakes the crew and even the film industry as a result, utterly crushing everyone who got swept up in the baseless hype.
- Unfortunate Names: Whitney Taylor Brown's family got rich off a diaper company named after them- the Brown Diaper Service.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: The film doesn't give any indication of what happened to Brian after getting an Oscar nomination.
- "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: The end of the film shows what Callie, Victor, and Marilyn are doing after the nominations night changed the courses of their careers.