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Middle school student Roy A. Eberhardt (Logan Lerman) has just moved to Florida from Montana. He is mercilessly teased and bullied by Dana Matherson until Roy breaks his nose in order to be free. He is exasperated, but then makes the acquaintance of Beatrice "The Bear" Leep (Brie Larson), and her stepbrother, "Mullet Fingers" (Cody Linley). Meanwhile, Chuck Muckle, the corrupt and ruthless CEO of a pancake company is attempting to construct a new pancake house on a nearby vacant lot. There is a problem however: a group of burrowing owls live on the site, and they will be killed if their habitat is bulldozed. The trio embark on a crusade to save the endangered animals. Fingers continually sabotages construction efforts on the site, while Roy is drawn deeper and deeper into the effort to save the owls. Meanwhile, Delinko (Luke Wilson), an incompetent police officer, is assigned to find out who is vandalizing the site; and Leroy 'Curly' Branitt (Tim Blake Nelson), an inept construction foreman, is trying to keep the construction schedule going, despite the presence of the owls. In the end, the trio reveals to Delinko and the rest of the town that there are burrowing owls on the lot. They then manage to get everyone to be quiet long enough for the owls to emerge, and Muckle is subsequently arrested by Delinko. The construction site eventually becomes an owl preserve. At the very end, Roy's parents decide to stay in Florida, Delinko finally gets to be a detective, Dana goes to military camp, Muckle does community service, and finally, Mullet Fingers and Roy pass a sign that says "The Dunes of Coconut Cove: Condominium development. 300 Luxury units coming soon!" They nod their heads, and walk off of the beach.

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