Lucy (Rosanna Arquette) is a waitress who works in a fancy restaurant in New York City, but what she really wants to do is something else, something more showbiz related. One of the bartenders there is Monte (David Bowie) who as far as she can tell from what he says to the other waitresses is an incorrigible liar, but one thing he is sincere about is wanting to get married. Not for love, but for his Green Card so he can earn American citizenship and not have to return to Britain where he claims his life is in danger, but a willing lady is difficult to find. Will Lucy oblige?
There is a linguini incident in The Linguini Incident, but it's merely mentioned in passing and has no bearing on the plot whatsoever, which should offer some idea of how the emphasis was on the quirky for Richard Shepard's movie, a work he disowned when it did not turn out the way he had hoped. It worked out OK for him, however, as he eventually had a hit with the hitman comedy The Matador, so at least he wasn't forced to leave the business when this was barely released and when it was seen, was regarded as so slight and fluffy that it would blow away in a stiff breeze, damned by its reliance on whimsy.
Shepard certainly had an interesting cast for his efforts, with Rosanna Arquette presumably hired to court comparisons with her earlier hit Desperately Seeking Susan - this little item really did feel like a film out of time, as if the director had sat on the script for five years or more likely had spent about that time or more trying to get the thing made. What David Bowie was doing there was anyone's guess, as he has usually been employed as far as films went to add a spot of otherworldly oddness to a cult film or example of the outré; here, on the other hand, he was a comedy character who as this turned out wasn't all that funny anyway, much like the rest of the movie.
Naturally, he still came across as strange to a degree, and he was given some bizarre dialogue to speak such as "I thought that rabbit was eating your head!" or "Why don't you take a match to my balls?" though you had to assume that was intended to be for a laugh or two. While this was amiable enough, you rarely got the impression this was a movie that vitally needed to be made or indeed watched, yet star fanciers would be interested to see Bowie and Arquette in leading roles together, especially the former as he was accustomed to playing in support aside from the occasional part. Added to that were Andre Gregory and Buck Henry as the nightclub owners who have Monte by the throat financially.
Those two tended to be wheeled on for more quirk every so often, but they were important to the plot in that they set in motion the escapology-themed grand finale. Lucy, you see, is intent on leaving waitressing behind to be the next Harry Houdini (female version), except when we first see her rehearsing she manages to tie herself up only to find it tricky to extricate herself from her bonds. Coincidentally, Monte phones her up the next morning asking her out for breakfast and she implores him for help, which he provides as long as she agrees to marry him, purely a business arrangement but they do end up handcuffed to the bed in a manner typical of the way the film flirts with kinkiness but does nothing with it. One thing leads to another, and somehow Monte has persuaded Lucy and her best friend Viv (singer-songwriter Eszter Balint) to rob the restaurant: take that, Pulp Fiction! There's more to it than that - Viveca Lindfors sells Houdini's ring, Marlee Matlin signs sarky comments - but somehow it seems like there's far less. Music by Thomas Newman.