"Life doesn't have bumpers", Mason Sr. warns his kids on one of their Saturday visits to the bowling alley, "and any strike you bowl with them doesn't count." But amidst several house moves, changing schools, sporadic visits with his dad and his mother's 2nd and 3rd unsuccessful marriages, Mason Jr. battles on through his school years, discovers girls, gets his first car, first job, experiences his first love and of course first heartache. But it is not only the children we see grow up as thankfully Mason's parents also benefit from the wisdom time can provide.
The film's timeline is subtly punctuated with changes in hairstyle, deepening of a voice, changing waistlines and ageing faces. Supported by a chronological order of events, such as a Harry Potter book launch, an election campaign (Obama's first) or release of the latest popular video game, it is set to a soundtrack of the past decade's most popular songs.