Max Devlin is the shady landlord of a rundown slum in Los Angeles. While running to escape his angry tenants after one of them blurts out that he owns the building, Max is killed by a bus and descends into hell, which resembles a corporate headquarters. He meets souls manager Barney Satin, the devil's chief henchman, who tells him that he will set him free if he can get three innocent youngsters to sell their souls in exchange for his own. Max agrees and is returned to life, but Barney retains Max's soul, and consequently Max cannot see himself in a mirror. Barney even gives him limited magical powers to help achieve his goal; he tells Max that if he succeeds, his soul will be free and the subjects will continue to live until the natural end of their lives. Alive again, Max begins his frantic quest, and Barney, whom only Max can see, appears frequently to check on Max's progress – and to taunt him.
Max's three targets are Stella Summers, a high school dropout and aspiring singer; Nerve Nordlinger, a student who dreams of being popular; and Toby Hart, a child who longs for his widowed mother Penny to find happiness again. Max charms his way into each of their lives by landing a recording contract for Stella, training Nerve as a motorbike racer after school, and spending time with Toby while helping Penny operate a day care facility. Max begins to care for all three of his subjects and discovers his innate decency. He even falls in love with Penny, but finds it difficult to get them to sign away their souls. Stella refuses to sign, believing that Max is trying to get more than his 20% fee as her manager, Nerve is too focused on training for an important race, and Toby refuses to sign unless Max marries Penny.
Eventually Max obtains all three signatures, and upon signing, their personalities immediately change for the worse. After Max and Penny wed, Barney appears and reveals that all three of them will die at midnight, and though Max gets to live until the natural end of his own life, he is still damned. Angered at the lie, Max is ready to destroy the contracts, and Barney whisks Max back to hell revealing his true demonic form, threatening Max with even greater torment if he destroys the contracts. Knowing he is already condemned, Max throws the papers into a nearby fire, but he is quickly returned to life.
Believing himself still damned, Max leaves his wedding reception to say goodbye to Nerve and Stella, and finds that their personalities have returned to normal. When he comes back to say goodbye to Toby and Penny, he is overjoyed when he can again see himself in a mirror, surmising that by his self-sacrifice he has been redeemed and Barney is defeated. He looks toward Heaven and gives thanks as he attends one of Stella's concerts with Penny and Toby.
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