It's the grand re-opening of Mystery Funland, and Joy has a plan to get the kids in for free. With a magic marker, she draws "Make-A-Wish" on their T-shirts. Why should her kids suffer because they're healthy? All this inspires Earl to remember the time he took advantage of a Make-A-Wish kid...
One night ten years ago, a drunken Earl needed a ride home. When he spotted a giant dog, he took advantage of the transportation, depriving dying Make-A-Wish kid Buddy of his pony ride in the 1999 New Year's Day parade. Buddy is dead, but Earl decides to do something for his parents.
As luck would have it, Buddy is still alive, and he knows just what Earl can do for him. A rabid movie fan, Buddy has written a script about international spy Max Patrick, who takes down a giant squid. He will direct and star, and Earl can produce.
Buddy has an artistic vision, and as producer, Earl must help him execute it. Buddy wants to cast someone hot yet edgy as Max's wife; Joy is perfect. Catalina is cast as a ruthless terrorist, and Randy will be the president. The only problem - Randy is the only one who can act. Claiming it's simple, Randy shows off, upsetting everyone.
Problems continue during shooting. Catalina throws a knife into Willy's eye, and Randy catches on fire. With each foible, Buddy runs to his trailer, leaving Earl to "fix it." When it's time to shoot the important final scene at magic hour, morale is low. Buddy steals an onscreen kiss with Joy, so she quits, and the rest of the cast and crew follow suit.
Buddy is upset when no one shows up for the final day of shooting. Earl reiterates that everyone quit, but he's prepared to keep going. Buddy realizes that he's already got his dream shots in the can. He just needs two weeks to edit, and then Earl can throw a premiere party. Earl thinks no one will come, but Buddy knows they will.
Since "2 the Max" is the first film shot in Camden since the documentary on the chemical spill, everyone in town shows up to the premiere party... except Buddy. Sadly, he has succumbed to his disease. Buddy's mom assures Earl that Buddy died happy, since all his crazy dreams came true while filming the movie: he met the president, saved the world from a giant squid, and finally got to ride that horse in a parade.
Everyone enjoys Buddy's movie - it's obvious that he's made something special. Inspired by Buddy, everyone decides to do the things they've always wanted to do while they still have a chance. Darnell paints, Joy designs clothing security tags, and Earl takes up the xylophone. He might not be too good at it, but he intends to give it his best shot, and make it totally awesome.