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astal California town on Christmas Eve, ex-con Felix is seen running from his angry, pregnant wife, Gracie, as she chases him down the road. He accidentally runs into and damages a Christmas tree carried by two rollerbladers. When an argument breaks out among them, a stranger, Philip, unsuccessfully attempts to calm them down. They soon disperse. Philip, head of the suicide-prevention hotline "Lifesavers", receives an eviction notice from his landlord, Stanley, after being unable to pay the organization's rent for several months. In addition to him, the hotline is staffed by the selfish, neurotic, and rather fearful office manager, Mrs. Blanche Munchnik and the overly emotional and empathetic supervisor Catherine O'Shaughnessy. Philip, who does not inform his coworkers of the eviction, attempts to convince his girlfriend, Susan, who is a loan officer in a local bank, to grant him a small loan. She refuses the loan before tel
ling him that she has been secretly dating a psychiatrist for four months and is breaking up with him. Despite Catherine's expectation that Christmastime would bring multiple crises to solve, the staff has received few calls. There is one phone call from a woman who is frightened by a notorious Los Angeles serial killer dubbed "the Seaside Strangler," and another from Chris, a drag transvestite, who feigns depression to convince Philip to disclose the Lifesavers' office address. Meanwhile, an elevator malfunction leaves Mrs. Munchnik trapped on her way to Christmas Eve dinner. Philip eventually manages to pull her to the top of the elevator when Gracie arrives and attempts to operate it. They are terrified that they will be crushed by the ceiling of the elevator shaft, but eventually they all manage to return to the office. Felix arrives, begging Gracie to listen to him, and she hits him in the head with a fruitcake, concussing him and causing a large cut on his fo
rehead. Philip and Catherine take him to a veterinarian to be treated for his head wound. While the doctor is distracted discussing relationships and pillows with Philip, Felix steals and quickly overdoses on dog tranquilizers and is taken to a hospital. Meanwhile, at the office, the doorbell rings. Gracie quickly throws the door open, accidentally striking Mrs. Munchnik and revealing Chris in the doorway. Gracie leaves Chris to care for the unconscious Mrs. Munchnik. When Philip returns, Chris is sitting on the sofa and convinces Philip to dance with him. When Mrs. Munchnik awakens, she witnesses the dancing and threatens to sue Philip for withholding information of the eviction and for inappropriate office behavior before leaving. Soon, Gracie, Catherine, and a downstairs neighbor named Louie Capshaw, all return to the office with Chinese food. Meanwhile, her car fixed by the car club, Blanche encounters the fruitcake again, as it has landed and crashes through her windshield, aft
er Philip has a fit and throws it out of the office window. She is distraught, sitting on her car bumper, as fellow neighbor Mr. Lobel walks up to her with his three dogs in tow. Lobel comforts her and Munchnik realizes that she has loved Lobel for so long. Together, they flee to the beach and have sex in the lifeguard's office. An hour later, Felix arrives at the office brandishing a gun, having escaped from the hospital. Chris gets shot in the foot after attempting to disarm him. Gracie takes the gun and shoots wildly around the office to empty it of ammunition. Two shots go through the front door, killing Stanley (having been called by Catherine to fix the elevator earlier), who was standing behind it with a bag of his possessions. The sight of the dead Stanley puts Catherine in shock. Philip prepares a bath to calm her down confesses his love to Catherine, who reciprocates. They have sex in the bathroom. Meanwhile, Chris takes a one-sided interest in Louie and attempts to fl
irt with him. Louie reprises his earlier appearance and sings impromptu songs on his prized ukulele. Gracie and Felix disguise Stanley's body as a Christmas tree with burlap and super glue, and the decision is made to take it and the bag to the boardwalk and leave it there. As they all carry Stanley's body down the street, they encounter the now-vengeful rollerbladers—their previous two Christmas trees having been destroyed by Felix—who barrel through them in order to destroy their "tree". Felix tosses the tree and it crashes to the ground, revealing Stanley's body. When the police arrive, Philip falsely confesses to the killing, but Gracie pulls out the gun as proof of her guilt. Felix grabs it and runs to the roof of a nearby building, where he threatens to commit suicide. Philip convinces him to climb down, to much applause. Catherine hands Stanley's bag to the detectives, who search it. They find fishing line and kelp, the weapons of choice
for the Seaside Strangler, revealing Stanley as the Seaside Strangler. For killing the criminal, Gracie receives the reward of two hundred fifty thousand dollars. She uses this money to satisfy Lifesavers' debts and prevent their eviction, then promptly goes into labor. She gives birth in at midnight on Christmas Day, in a scene that parodies the Nativity of Jesus. Philip then asks Catherine to marry him the same day, and she obliges. At the end credits, Felix, who quit his job to paint murals, was finally commissioned and his career takes off from there. His first commission has him painting everything he told Gracie he would paint once he had a wa