To the folks in Conway, South Carolina, Duncan Mayor (Andy Garcia) is a very cranky guy. To his wife Suzy (Mary-Louise Parker), he's a doting pussycat. But Suzy is just home from the hospital and cared for 24/7 by nurse Natalie (Mandy Moore), whom Duncan tries his best to ignore. Duncan decides the best medicine Suzy could possibly have – and a Christmas present she'll never forget - is a ride on a real Ferris wheel set up in their own back yard. Why a Ferris wheel? Because it was while riding one many moons ago that Duncan asked Suzy to marry him.
Where does one find a 45-foot-high used Ferris wheel? Duncan strikes gold in an abandoned amusement park, presided over by a lonely ex-carnival worker Henry. Assembling the mechanical monstrosity is not exactly a one-man job. Duncan gets a crucial assist from Tommy, a former student of Suzy's, who is deeply in her debt. After Suzy set him straight during his troubled youth, he became a successful landscape designer. Meanwhile, the neighbors are not amused, especially prim and proper Gayle Matthews (Cheri Oteri). She's entered her garden in an upscale magazine's "Christmas Showcase" contest. The interest of the contest's judges witnessing the atrocity next door is more than Gayle can bear. Fortunately, her brother is the local sheriff and there are zoning laws to prevent this kind of thing, aren't there? Love doesn't strike just once with Suzy and Duncan. Romantic magic also happens between Natalie and Tommy. Are these matches made in Heaven?