When Madeleine (Embeth Davidtz), a British-born dealer in regional, "outsider" art, travels from Chicago to North Carolina to pursue a local painter for her gallery, she and her brand-new, younger husband George (Alessandro Nivola) extend the trip to include an introduction to his family: his prickly mother Peg (Celia Weston); his taciturn father Eugene (Scott Wilson); his angry younger brother Johnny (Benjamin McKenzie), who has always suffered in the shadow of his over-achieving brother; and Johnny's very pregnant and innocently garrulous wife Ashley (Amy Adams). Madeleine confronts the difficulty of these two cultures colliding, and discovers the tumultuous outcome as these separate ways of life must coexist.
Although Ashley immediately takes to the sophisticated Madeleine and embraces her as a sister, the other members of George's family, especially his mother, are less than receptive. With George falling into his old routine of spending time alone, Madeleine relies almost entirely on Ashley to help her navigate the family dinners, Church meetings, and Ashley's baby shower, all while desperately trying to close the deal on the artist. Tensions mount when Ashley goes into labor and each family member's priorities, Madeleine's included, are confronted.