The movie opens in 1957 with a United States military operation that is securing a crashed UFO in a hangar bay. President Dwight D. Eisenhower (Robert Beer), enters to see the craft and simply orders his men to “get rid of it.”
We then cut forward in time to 1985 and meet a high school senior named Michael Harlan (John Stockwell), whose only interest is muscle cars, reluctantly searches for something to turn in for his final science class project. While on what his bookworm friend Ellie Sawyer (Danielle von Zerneck), thinks is a date, Michael breaks into a government aircraft boneyard and stumbles upon a hidden fallout shelter. There, he finds a glowing, plasma globe-like piece of equipment and grabs it just as a military guard approaches and chases him away.
The next day, Michael cleans up the device in auto shop class and unwittingly activates it where it begins drawing power from a nearby boombox. His friend Vince Latello (Fisher Stevens), tries to talk him out of attaching the device’s “terminals” to an automotive battery whereupon the device emits a swirl of colorful energy that manifests into an Ancient Greek vase. As the two leave the auto shop for their next class, they soon realize they inexplicably lost two hours of time and missed their final science exam. What happened?