George Dupler (Gene Hackman), a married man nearing middle age, is demoted after a temper tantrum at work (throwing a chair out of his boss's window) and reduced to working as the midnight-shift manager of an all-night pharmacy/convenience store.
George's adult son, Freddie (Dennis Quaid), is having an affair with an older, married woman, who also happens to be Freddie's fourth cousin. George advises Freddie to stop the affair before it leads to any trouble, but Freddie declares that he might love her. One night at the store, George finally meets the woman, Cheryl (Barbra Streisand), an untalented singer-songwriter married to a volatile firefighter, Bobby (Kevin Dobson), and she begins to show an interest in him. After a while, the interest is mutual.
George goes to Cheryl's house to return her cigarette lighter. She offers to show George the paint job Freddie has done in her bedroom. George and Cheryl are about to get intimate, when Freddie comes over to see Cheryl for another tryst. George escapes before Freddie could see him, but Cheryl decides to tell Freddie about the affair she is having with his dad. The next day, when George is trying to sleep, and his wife, Helen (Diane Ladd), is having a French class, Freddie confronts his father, trying to fight him. Helen hears about the affair and George leaves. When she demands a divorce, George agrees.
George ends up quitting his job and buying a loft where he can pursue his dream of being an inventor. George goes to an anniversary party where everybody he knows is there, including his family, plus Cheryl and Bobby. He realizes Bobby is aware of the affair with his wife. George takes Cheryl away from the party and her husband. Even though Cheryl loves him, she thinks he is too good for her.
Cheryl goes to the fire station where Bobby works to talk to him. Bobby ends up yelling at her and is about to hit her when the fire alarm goes off. He and all of the firemen leave, whereupon we see that it was George who reported the nonexistent fire.
Cheryl moves into George's place. Freddie has accepted the situation and helps her move in, showing that he and his dad have reconciled.Gene Hackman as George Dupler
Barbra Streisand as Cheryl Gibbons
Dennis Quaid as Freddie Dupler
Diane Ladd as Helen Dupler
Kevin Dobson as Bobby Gibbons
William Daniels as Richard H. Copleston
Hamilton Camp as Buggoms
Terry Kiser as Ultra-Save day manager
Charles Siebert as Nevins
Vernee Watson-Johnson as Emily (as Vernee Watson)
Raleigh Bond as Ultra-Save doctor
Annie Girardot as the French teacher
Ann Doran as Grandmother Gibbons
James Nolan as Grandfather Gibbons (as Jim Nolan)
Judy Kerr as Joan Gibbons
Marlyn Gates as Jennifer Gibbons
The film was originally planned as a low-budget release, with Hackman and Lisa Eichhorn. Streisand's then-agent, Sue Mengers, who was married to the film's director, Jean-Claude Tramont, suggested Barbra for the part instead of Eichhorn, even though filming already was under way. Stresiand was paid $4 million for starring in this film, the highest salary for an actor up to that time. Several biographies suggest that because of the film's subsequent failure at the box office, Streisand fired Mengers.
Prominent in the musical soundtrack is "La Violetera", a composition by José Padilla which had been featured previously in Charlie Chaplin's City Lights.
The film received mostly negative reviews, though some critics cited Streisand's performance as one of her best. Stephen Holden, in Rolling Stone magazine, gave the film a positive review, adding that Streisand's performance suggested Marilyn Monroe. Pauline Kael in The New Yorker was full of praise: "The director, Jean-Claude Tramont, a Belgian who has worked in American television, is a sophisticated jokester. There may be a suggestion of Lubitsch and of Max Ophüls in his approach, and there is more than a suggestion of Jacques Tati. Gene Hackman, whose specialty has been believable, lived-in characters, gives one of his most likable performances." Gary Arnold of The Washington Post also praised Hackman's performance, calling it "the most endearing of his career, an impression of frustrated but resilient middle-class masculinity that should evoke as much recognition and rooting interest among men as women seemed to derive from Ellen Burstyn's role in 'Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore.'"
Streisand was nominated for a 1981 Golden Raspberry Award for her performance.Gene Hackman was nominated for a 2nd place National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actor for his performance.
Although generally seen as a flop, the film opened at #1 on the American film charts with an opening weekend of $1,391,000, and grossed around $10,000,000 worldwide. Adjusting for inflation, this is around $25.6 million in 2013 dollars. The Independent Movie Data Base website lists the film's total U.S. gross as less than $4.5 million.