Lt. Daniel Kaffee (Tom Cruise) is a military lawyer defending two U.S. Marines charged with killing a fellow Marine at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba. Although Kaffee is known for seeking plea bargains, a fellow lawyer, Lt. Cdr. JoAnne Galloway (Demi Moore), convinces him that the accused marines were most likely carrying out an order from a commanding officer. Kaffee takes a risk by calling Col. Nathan R. Jessep (Jack Nicholson) to the stand in an effort to uncover the conspiracy.
Ever since childhood, nerdy Danny O’Shea (Rick Moranis) has felt inferior to his brother, Kevin (Ed O’Neill), a former college football star. Danny runs a gas station, while Kevin coaches the local youth football team. When Kevin’s team rejects Danny’s daughter, Becky (Shawna Waldron), because she’s a girl, Becky convinces her dad to start a rival team, though the city can support only one. To prove himself against his brother, Danny begins coaching his team of misfits for a playoff game.
High school wrestler Louden Swain (Matthew Modine) feels he must do something significant in his life shortly after turning 18. Despite vehement advice against it from his father (Ronny Cox) and coach (Charles Hallahan), Swain decides to try to lose over 20 pounds in a very short time in an attempt to take on the defending state champion of a lower weight class. Meanwhile, he falls for the edgy, older Carla (Linda Fiorentino), who provides further distraction for the young wrestler.
Roy Munson (Woody Harrelson) is a young bowler with a promising career ahead of him until a disreputable colleague, Ernie McCracken (Bill Murray), tricks him into participating in a con game that ends with Roy’s bowling hand crippled for life. Years later, Roy ekes out a hardscrabble existence until he discovers Amish bowling phenom Ishmael (Randy Quaid). With the help of a gangser’s girlfriend (Vanessa Angel), he plots to take Ishmael to the top of the bowling world.
A scientist (Vincent Price) builds an animated human being — the gentle Edward (Johnny Depp). The scientist dies before he can finish assembling Edward, though, leaving the young man with a freakish appearance accentuated by the scissor blades he has instead of hands. Loving suburban saleswoman Peg (Dianne Wiest) discovers Edward and takes him home, where he falls for Peg’s teen daughter (Winona Ryder). However, despite his kindness and artistic talent, Edward’s hands make him an outcast.