Paul Hackett meets Marcy Franklin (Rosanna Arquette) in a cafe. They express their mutual interest in writer Henry Miller. Marcy gives Paul her telephone number and tells him that she lives with sculptor Kiki Bridges (Linda Fiorentino). Later that night, under the pretense of buying the sculptor's work, Paul visits Marcy. Taking a cab to her apartment, a $20 bill blows out the cab window, leaving him with only some change. The driver is livid that he can't pay. Thus begins a long series of mishaps for Paul that go bad him doing anything wrong. At the apartment, he meets Kiki and Marcy. It seems Paul and Marcy may become romantically involved, but he finds a series of pictures and medications that imply Marcy's legs and torso are heavily disfigured from burns. As a result, and because of a awkward conversation with Marcy, Paul abruptly leaves.
Paul then wants to go home by subway, but the price of a ticket has gone up at the stroke of midnight and he learns that his coins are no longer sufficient to buy a token. He goes to a bar owned by Tom Schorr (John Heard). He can't open the cash register to help him. He gives Paul his keys, so he can go to his apartment to get the cash register keys. On the way over, he encounters two burglars with one of Kiki's sculptures. When he returns the sculpture to her apartment, he finds Marcy has killed herself, while Kiki has already left for nightclub Club Berlin. Paul returns to Tom's bar, finding Tom grieving over the Marcy's death, who turns out to be his girlfriend. Going over there, he meets two women, Julie (Teri Garr) and Gail, who take a fancy to him at first, but later turn against him, when Paul gets mistaken for a burglar and is pursued by a mob of locals.
Paul ultimately takes refuge at the Club Berlin. Paul uses his last coins to play Peggy Lee's Is That All There Is? and asks a woman to dance. Paul explains to her people are after him and she offers to help him. Also being a sculptress, she protects him by covering him in plaster to disguise him as a sculpture. But when she won't let him out of the plaster, which hardens, Paul gets trapped. The burglar duo, breaking into the club, steals him, putting him in the back of their van. He falls off the back of the van, which breaks the plaster, near his office as the sun comes up and goes to work.
Best part of story, including ending:
The mishaps that keep happening are funny, especially because he ends up at his job the next morning, like nothing happened.
Best scene in story:
Where a group of punks try to shave his head into a Mohawk hairstyle.
Opinion about the main character:
He is a pitiable wretch.