The movies starts with a few image of a person cutting lemons and squeezing lemons into a glass, Burke Ryan, (Aaron Eckhart) author of the A-Okay self-help book (about moving on from grievance of death of loved ones) recited his first chapter while doing so: Chapter one, if life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. Only he mixes half a glass of vodka with it.
Burke packs up and heads to the airport in a sequence of scenes, but the day already started badly for him, where there was traffic on the way to the airport; his luggage never arrived at the airport, and while walking in his nice suit, it began to pour rain. He is in the city, Seattle, where he is hosting a seminar based on his book.
At the hotel, his manager, Lane (Dane Fogler) already provided a suit and had everything prepared for Burke. Burke has a fear for elevators, so he took flights of stairs to his room to change, despite staying at what seems like one of the tops floors.
As Burke changed out of his wet clothes, drank some more vodka to cool his nerves, he heads out and bumps into Eloise (Jennifer Aniston), whom seemed unusually startled, yet she was simply just providing flowers for the hotel hallways and lobby. Eloise rushed off without saying a word. Burke noticed the painting on the wall was not leveled, and he noticed that Eloise had used a sharpie to write the work “QUINDUNC” on the back wall (which then Burke went to the hotel gift shop and used a dictionary to find that the word means a “busy person; body”)
Then we see Burke have a photo shoot at the rooftop to promote his book. The photographer asks a bunch of question about the reason for the book, and this is when we find out that Burke wrote this book trying to push himself to move on from the death of his wife three years ago in a car accident. During the photo shoot, we can see that there is still very much sorrow in Burke’s eyes.
Next Lane is introducing Burke to a big crowd of people who are in the city for the seminars. Burke was nervous and frowning while waiting outside, but once his name was announced, he hopped into the big conference room with the biggest smile and confidence and shook people’s hands and asks if they are “A-Okay?” etc. Burke then goes on to tell a story about a football coach who was on the line of getting replaced, but decided to put in efforts and wrote playbooks and ran practices and eventually went onto win a national championship with his effort. But on the night of the championship, the coach went home and put a bullet in his head. Turns out, this coach had a brother that coached with him but died during his almost replaced days. What Burke wanted people in the room to understand is that they cannot underestimate the power of grievance; nothing can be healed with just a band-aid or a sudden success; but a more in-depth sense of revelation and coming forth to face your fear and your pain. During this week long seminar there will be activities, group sessions and a bunch of other events that will help promote his book and also help these people get over their pains of losing loved ones.
One of the first thing Burke did was took the first group of people to the streets, he stopped traffic with the group in the middle of the road. Cars were honking and people were screaming for them to get out of the way. Burke patiently asks the group what they hear and see, and the group named everything they can see, including one saying “middle fingers.” Then Burke took the same group to the hotel rooftop, and asks them again what they see as we are able to see the beautiful shots of Seattle with the space needle and the rivers and the mountains in the background. Burke’s point is that they have not changed venues, all they did was simply changed their perspectives of the same location. And this is a very important step to their recovery.
After the session Burke joined Lane in the lobby for a drink. Lane tells Burke to live a little on his off time, and that is when Burke sees Eloise arranging flowers at the lobby. Burke downs his shots and goes to ask Eloise to have a cup of coffee with him. But Eloise signaled in sign language, making Burke understands that she is muted, so Eloise walks away and out the hotel. But while outside, Eloise says “bye” loudly to a bellman and drives off. Burke does not hear that and is puzzled and feels dejected as he goes to his room.
Next day we see a big man who is asking one of the personnel of the seminar for a refund, and Burke overhears the commotion and comes to talk to the man. The man, Walter, unwilling explains to Burke that his sister had signed him up for this seminar due to the death of his own son, and he had driven all the way up here from Montana. Burke tells Walter that he is surrounded by people who understand this exact same pain, and he should give this place a chance. We later see Walter with a seminar pass stating that he has agreed to stay for the classes.
Eloise now brings food to her rock band boyfriend at his house, but she notices two wine glasses out and one of them was covered in lipsticks. Eloise did not even bother to listen to her boyfriend explain and she storms out and went to her office. Eloise has a little flower shop and she has one employee Marty (Judy Greer), who is a sassy and not-so-serious-about-life kinda gal. They chatted about her cheating boyfriend and Eloise takes some anger out at Marty before getting on with her day.
Back in the hotel, while Burke was signing books for people, one of the people was Burke’s father-in-law (Martin Sheen, he has no name in the movie so let me just call him F-I-L). FIL mockingly tells Burke how wonderful it is to see him do so well after such a tragic accident, killing his daughter. FIL asks how can Burke make so much and look so happy after only three years of the accident, and all the while Burke was breathing hard and almost to tears. FIL calls Burke a hypocrite that he himself still has not gotten over the death of his own wife, how can he tell all these people how to do so. FIL walks away and Burke panicked.
While panicking, Burke sees Eloise at the front desk speaking to the receptionist, which fueled up his anger even more. Burke interrupted their conversation and goes on to make a speech about how pathetic it is for Eloise to have to fake a handicap to avoid any sort of human interactions with a interesting human being, and then Burke storms off to the men’s restroom. Eloise comes in and make her own speech about sorry about bruising his ego but does he expect that she falls for him and then they proceed to make some kind of hotel porn together etc. She assumed that he is married and is attempting to cheat, like her boyfriend, and storms off saying she just did both of them a favor by walking away the first time.
Burke then held a seminar about facing and confronting fears. One of the activities is to walk through a burning hot coal that is laid out on the floor. People lines up and takes off their shoes as everyone participate and walk through it quickly and are supported by everyone in the room. Then it is Walter’s turn, and he backs down and says that he is not going to get over his son’s death by walking through a stupid hot coal. Burke emphasizes that this a step, as Burke jumps on the hot coal and stood there, asking Walter to join him as we see his feet burns. Walter hesitates, and then storms off, as Burke jumps off the coal and we see his feet badly burnt as Lane later puts a lot of aloe on it. This entire event is witnessed by Eloise while she stands outside the door and takes one of Burke’s books with her.
Burke and Lane has a meeting with some corporate executive whom are very impressed at Burke and his accomplishment and want to make it a franchise which includes television and weight losing products (tying the fact that people that are depressed become obese). Burke was not attentive, but was there to listen while thinking about Eloise.
Burke then heads up to his room, but before so, he checks on every wall painting on the walls to see if there are any more words written behind them. At last, Burke finds one “Poppysmic”, which he later checks meant “the sound of smacking lips together.” Burke ordered a flower at Eloise’s shop with the same word on the card and asks for a dinner date. Eloise smiles and agrees.
Burke takes Eloise to a really fancy restaurant and they go on to have a really awkward date. As the date ends, Eloise could not wait to say good-bye and walks away. Burke then chases after her and first apologizes to her about how bad the date was, and then explains that this is his first date since the death of his wife. Eloise then understands his reasons and invites him to join her at her office because she has to presoak some flowers. They got to chat while Burke flips through a small box that Eloise explains are her top tens written by customers to their loved ones. Some are sad such as a father sending a wedding flower to the daughter that does not know of his existence; or the marine promising to be back in time to see the flowers bloom but never did; and the funny ones such as the 80-year-old man apologizing to his wife about the “rug-burn” last night.
Eloise and Burke becomes really great friends, so good that Burke was even willing to ditch a corporate meeting with the boss just to hang out with Eloise. Lane is very hurt because he is not appreciated of all the hard work in getting Burke to where he is right now. Burke apologizes, but still continues to see Eloise. One night, Eloise takes Burke home to pick up the “keys” to a truck, and while meeting the mother of Eloise. The mother is so excited like a teenage girl seeing Burke Ryan in real person. Eloise underestimated Burke’s popularity. Eloise then drives Burke in a truck, which has one of those elevators in the back. She parks the car at a location and explains to Burke that she wanted to get tickets to see this concert for Burke but it was sold out, so she borrows this truck from “Bob” and they go into the elevator and raise to the top, just enough to oversee the entire concert from the parking lot. They have a wonderful time, and they later part ways with just a simple hug. This gesture makes Eloise very comfortable with Burke, but also shows how Burke is not at all over with his wife.
One night out, when Burke was with Eloise and Marty at a hookah bar, Lane walks in and asks what is going on, Burke just said he is living a little, and Lane becomes happy and joins the party and went onto have a great night. But while walking home, the group of them and some other locals walked around some pretty famous places in the Seattle city, such as a wall where millions of gums are stuck on which looks like a beautiful canvas. They visit the graves of Bruce Lee and his son Brandon Lee at a cemetery. As they are walking away, Marty says funerals are so tacky, but Burke disagrees stating that funeral is a very important step for people to move on. Burke says that his wife’s funeral was a celebration and not a mourning. It was right here in Seattle and he says it rained all week in the March weather but that day happened to be clear skies and had his wife’s favorite specific flower bloomed that same day. But knowing flowers, Eloise says those flowers do not bloom till fall, which everyone then realizes that Burke did not even attend the funeral of his wife because he was just too sad. Burke walks home with Lane following in the back.
Back at the seminar, a small group session is not really speaking out much, probably because Burke’s mood is extremely bad and is very strong and harsh on some of the attendees. So Burke points out Walter and asks Walter to share his sad stories. Walter bursts into tears and sobbed while telling everyone that he is a contractor and he has not gone anywhere near a construction site ever since the death of his son. He lost his job, his wife and cannot even go to a home depot to shop. Walter’s son died of an accident at a construction site at a very young age. Burke feels for this story, and books a bus and takes the small group to a nearby home depot as the step that Walter needs to take. At the store, Walter is very scared and traumatized. But as the group individually picks up items and tools for Walter, he becomes familiar with his surroundings again and goes onto purchase a full cart of tools, paid for by… Lane. Walter realizes that is it time to move on, and thanks Burke and gives him the only picture of his son. Burke stands there in the home depot thinking of his own fear.
Burke visits Eloise and explains that he is still not over the death of his wife, and tells her that he has not even seen his in-laws ever since the accident. One of the wife’s wishes was to set their parrot free if she is no longer in this world. So Eloise takes that as her mission and drives Burke to the in-laws. Burke chickens out, and sneaks in the house from the backdoor to retrieve the bird. FIL is there but did not see Burke. Burke grabs the bird and goes to a nearby forest and sets the bird free. The bird does not go willingly, but when Burke changes his mind about letting go and runs back to retrieve the parrot, the parrot looks at him and then flew away peacefully. It is a sad moment for Burke, so he goes on a take it out on Eloise. He criticizes her for pushing him and pushing him, forcing him to do things he does not want to do. He chooses to walk home and Eloise complies and drives off.
When he finally gets back, Lane is worried, but tells him that tomorrow is such a big day because the head executive of the corporate is going to make a personal visit to see Burke. Burke then mans up and tells Lane to take the offer and that he will personally make this deal go through.
On the last day of the seminar, with the executives watching, Burke bursts into the room with the same smile and greetings and received the very same welcome. But this time was different; Burke begins to cry and tells the crowd that he cannot lie to them anymore. In the meantime, FIL is furious to find out that the parrot was stolen and he is in the same room to confront Burke. Burke says that he is standing here telling everyone what to do to move on, and the only person that has not moved on was himself. He is a hypocrite and he asks for forgiveness. Burke says he was the one driving that night, while arguing and it was pouring rain, a dog ran onto the road and he swerved and the car ran into a pole, killing the wife instantly. Burke keeps on blaming himself, and then FIL shouts out from the back saying that it was just an accident, and nothing more. FIL walks to the stage and hugs Burke, tells him that they never blame him for the death of their daughter, they just want to mourn with him together. They said they did not just lose their daughter that night, but they lost their son as well. They both cried and hugged, while the crowd erupts into a loud applause and everyone in the room cries.
After the session, people congratulate everyone, Walter asks Burke to please visit because they miss him. FIL also says thanks because Burke got rid of the damn noisy bird for him. Burke also is congratulated by the executive, who loves his style and wants to make this deal go through. Burke then leaves to pack his bag goes to find Eloise, not before finally taking the elevator.
At the store, Eloise finds a note sticking outside, (I forgot the word, but it means a person who is obsessed with big vocabs in sentences). Burke walks in and tells Eloise that all this time she had been knowing a person that was still clinging onto the past and was bitter and sad, but it is a different Burke now and he is wondering if Eloise would give him a chance to know this new Burke. Marty says yes for Eloise and hides again. Burke and Eloise hug and kiss, and Eloise says “yes.”
We see FIL limping out to pick up the morning papers, and then the parrot flies back and lands on his shoulder. FIL sighs and accepts the parrot and they walk into the house together with them keep saying hello to each other.
You can send in your spoiler to other movies by going here.