Owen Walters (Bill Switzer) is a terminally ill 12-year-old boy. He and some of his friends who are also sick deal with the typical preteen realities of life -- bullies, parents, and sports -- but their lives are haunted by their apparent short life expectancies. Owen has developed a special bond with his somewhat eccentric next-door neighbor, Mr. Rice (David Bowie), who opens Owen's mind to ideas of philosophy. Sadly, Mr. Rice dies. But Owen discovers that Mr. Rice, in the days before his death, prepared an elaborate treasure hunt that only Owen, if he uses all the planted clues, can find. Owen and his friends go to great lengths and against great odds to find the treasure, and when Owen finds it, he discovers the treasure is buried inside himself.