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On a hot summer day in Cape Flattery, Washington, Ma Kettle worries about how to afford to send her fifteen children to camp, while lazy Pa drafts a letter to his cousin, Rodney Kettle. Pa and Rodney both courted Ma when they were young, and although Pa won Ma's hand, Rodney went on to become a wealthy businessman in Waikiki, Hawaii. Embarrassed by his relative lack of success, Pa routinely spins tales for Rodney about nonexistent accomplishments. Meanwhile, Rodney is facing serious problems, both with his failing pineapple processing factory and his health. When a takeover bid by rival Robert Coates and his assistant, Eddie Nelson, precipitates a mild heart attack, Rodney sends his assistant, Bob Baxter, to urge Pa to run the company temporarily. Upon arriving in Cape Flatterry, Bob meets the Kettles' neighbor, prim Birdie Hicks, and when she shows him to the Kettle house, they arrive at the very moment that the Kettle children turn on the lawn sprinklers. Birdie is drenched, and Bob chases young Billy Kettle around the house. Billy is rescued by his oldest sister Rosie, who is at first annoyed with Bob, but soon realizes there is a mutual attraction. Pa is hesistant when he hears Bob's offer, knowing that Rodney believes him to be a tycoon, but when Ma hears the salary, she accepts the position for Pa. That night, Ma threatens to leave if Pa does not follow through on this amazing opportunity. After Ma sends the kids to camp, she, Pa and Rosie board a cruise ship to Hawaii. Ma is too preoccupied to listen as Pa tries to reveal his lies, and later strikes up a conversation with snooty Theresa Andrews, wife of Waikiki bank president Fulton Andrews. Theresa is horrified by Ma's working class manners, and further infuriated when Pa accidentally knocks her into the pool. Just as the ship docks in Hawaii, Andrews tells Rodney that he must secure Pa's signature on the factory contract within twenty-four hours, or the bank will not lend him money. Nelson overhears the conversation and plots with Coates to kidnap Pa before he can sign. The next day, Rodney brings Pa to a board meeting, and when the men see Pa's rustic clothing, they take off their hats to look more like him. On the factory tour, Pa is labeled a genius after he inadvertently speeds up production by broadcasting a fast jazz tune over the public address system. Andrews invites Ma to Theresa's cocktail party that night, and when Ma sits under a heater, her subsequent loud ice chewing appalls the society ladies. The next morning at the factory, Pa assembles the board members to demonstrate a potion a salesman has just convinced him to try. Instead of the miraculous nectar the salesman promised, however, the liquid causes a huge explosion, and Pa leaves in disgrace. Outside, Ma declares Pa a failure, and in his desperation to win back her favor, he readily believes Nelson, who lies to him that there is buried treasure on a nearby island. Nelson leads Pa to a boat on which three of Coates' goons, Lefty Conway, Shorty Bates and Marty, await. With orders to keep Pa preoccupied for another twenty-four hours, the goons help Pa dig for treasure, but later, they fail to notice as Pa wanders off. He soon meets Papa Lotus, an inordinately lazy native with twelve children. Papa invites Pa home, but during their dinner luau, Nelson's men find Pa, secretly knock him out and drag him to a hut in the jungle. At the same time, Ma realizes Pa is missing and sends Bob to find Nelson, who, under duress, reveals Pa's whereabouts. While Rodney notifies the police, Ma races to the island, pulling the rickshaw herself when the driver lags behind. Upon arriving on the island, she immediately bumps into the Lotuses, and together, everyone except Papa sets out in search of Pa. They find the hut and attack, using jungle fruits as ammunition. Overwhelmed, the goons run into the shack, but the kids maintain their relentless attack and eventually capture the men in a huge net. Having slept through the commotion, Pa wakes only after a crab bites him. When Ma scolds him, Mama Lotus informs her that Pa was searching for treasure to give to her. Ma declares that the only treasure she needs is the one she already has: her children. Just then, Rodney appears with the police, who arrest Lefty, Shorty and Marty. Rodney reveals that the explosion in the factory has produced a world-class pineapple juice and saved the business, thus curing his stress-related heart problem. Although Rodney asks Pa to stay on as his partner, Ma reminds Pa that he has fifteen responsiblities to return to in Washington.