After getting canned from his advertising job, down-and-out divorcé Bill Rago (Danny DeVito) gets a gig teaching English at a nearby army base. There, he takes on a group of underachieving students from poor backgrounds who seem apathetic about their education. Bill becomes frustrated, but finally turns the class around when he begins discussing "Hamlet." However, Sgt. Cass (Gregory Hines), a hardened drill instructor, is skeptical of Bill's teaching methods.