THE FLORIDA PROJECT
*CUT TO THE CHASE*
NOTE: This spoiler was submitted by Jeremy
Kissimmee, FL - A little boy named Dicky (Aiden Malik) runs to his friends Moonee (Brooklynn Prince) and Scooty (Christopher Rivera) and brings them to a nearby motel, Future Land. The three kids run up to the second floor balcony and start spitting on a car. The car's owner, Stacy (Josie Olivo), comes out and reprimands the children, just as Moonee spits on Stacy's granddaughter Jancey (Valeria Cotto).
Stacy goes to the Magic Castle motel where the kids stay. She gets the manager, Bobby (Willem Dafoe), to knock on the door of Moonee's room. Her mother Halley (Bria Vinaite) answers and is told by Bobby about the issue. The kids are then forced to go clean up Stacy's car.
Halley and Moonee live at the Magic Castle for an extended stay since they are poor, as are most of the other residents in the motel, including Scooty and his mother Ashley (Mela Murder), who works at a restaurant and hooks Moonee up with free food for her and her mom. Halley previously worked as a stripper but was fired after a couple of days and is struggling to come up with rent money.
Moonee and Scooty go out to play and go look for Dicky, but his father has him grounded for the spitting incident. The kids then go to Future Land and invite Jancey to hang out with them. They walk across the strip and go to an ice cream shop where they ask for change from strangers so that they can share a single ice cream cone.
A tourist couple arrive at the motel by mistake since they meant to get booked at the Magic Kingdom hotel next to the Disney parks, but instead got sent to the crummy motel.
The kids spend their summer break together around the motel or the general neighborhood. They spy on a woman sunbathing topless, just as Bobby comes by to tell the woman to cover up. On another occasion, the kids sneak into the maintenance room and turn off the power to the motel, causing everyone to get angry since it's a hot day. Bobby must run to the room and flip the power back on.
Dicky and his father leave the motel, and they give the other kids some of his old toys before saying goodbye to his friends.
Moonee, Jancey, and Scooty go play by an abandoned house where they start breaking things and messing around. Scooty uses a lighter he stole and sets fire to a pillow under a chimney. This causes a big fire that spreads throughout the house. The kids run back to their homes to avoid getting in trouble. The other Magic Castle residents head over to see the house burning as firefighters try to put it out. Ashley suspects Scooty of being involved and she forbids him from hanging out with Moonee anymore.
In response to Ashley's new rule, Halley brings Moonee to the restaurant where she works and makes Ashley take her order and bring them a lot of food, which Moonee quickly eats. Halley then makes Ashley pack the uneaten food to go, but Halley just tosses it on the walk back to the motel.
While painting outside the motel, Bobby notices an old man, Charlie (Carl Bradfield), wandering where the kids are playing. Suspicious, Bobby approaches him and asks Charlie what he's doing around there. He claims to have been looking for a soda machine, so Bobby takes him to one. After getting him his soda, Bobby smacks it out of Charlie's hand and aggressively sends him away, even going as far as to taking Charlie's wallet so he gets his name to call in to the sheriff's office.
Halley takes Moonee around town selling perfume so she can round up some money. This stops when they come across a country club and a security guard catches them. The guard tries to get Halley to go to the office to wait for the cops, but Halley tries to make off with her bag of perfume before the guard pulls it and takes some of the perfume that falls out. Halley then starts selling discount tickets to theme parks.
Halley then starts secretly working as a prostitute while keeping Moonee hidden. One of the Johns (Macon Blair) tries to confront Halley at her room over some bands he thinks she stole that were for his family. Bobby comes by to settle the issue, indicating he knows what Halley's been doing, but he speaks on her defense and sends the John away. However, Bobby orders Halley to have any visitors of hers check in at the front desk. Halley throws a fit and follows Bobby into the lobby, where he threatens to kick her out if she doesn't leave the lobby. She does so but then sticks a used menstrual pad on the window.
Bobby tries to set Halley and Moonee up at another motel, the Arabian Nights, which is supposed to have a cheaper staying price. When Halley gets there, one of the managers tells her that the price has been raised by $10. Halley makes a scene again and forces Bobby to go there to talk to the managers. Bobby offers to pay the coverage, but the managers are so disgusted with Halley and Moonee's behavior that they refuse to allow them to stay.
Back at the Magic Castle, Halley goes to Ashley's room to try and make amends but also to ask her to spot her for rent money. Ashley tells her everyone in the motel knows about her prostituting herself and threatens her if she finds out Scooty was up there while Halley did that. Halley responds by attacking Ashley and hitting her until she gets a black eye.
After taking Moonee to the dining hall for breakfast, Halley returns to her room to find Child Services agents and two police officers at her door. They are investigating her work as a prostitute and are going to send Moonee to live with a foster family. Moonee is brought to Ashley's room to say bye to her and Scooty. Halley starts to act aggressively toward the agents and officers, just as Moonee is resisting one of the social workers trying to calm her down and take her away. Moonee runs away, leading the agents and officers to go looking for her.
Moonee runs to Future Land to Jancey's room. She starts crying and is unable to say what's wrong. Jancey takes Moonee's hand and runs away with her, going all the way to Disney World and running to the Magic Kingdom.