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The story is about a Long Islander named Ethan Allen Hawley (played by Donald Sutherland) who works as a clerk in a grocery store he used to own, but is now owned by an Italian immigrant (played by Michael V. Gazzo). His wife (Teri Garr) and kids want more than what he can give them because of his lowly position.
He finds out that the immigrant that owns his store is an illegal alien, turns him into the Immigration and Naturalization Service, and receives the store by deceiving the immigrant. Ethan continues to have feelings of depression and anxiety brought about by his uneasy relationship with his wife and kids, risky flirtation with Margie Young-Hunt (Tuesday Weld), and consideration of a bank robbery scheme.