The film centers on the married couple of George (Lemmon) and Gwen Kellerman (Dennis). They live in Twin Oaks, Ohio, but George's company has invited him to interview for a possible job promotion in New York City. From the moment they depart their home town, the couple suffers nearly every indignity out-of-towners possibly could experience, with George maniacally and desperately collecting the names of everyone who has wronged them with plans to sue every last one of them, whiele Gwen accepts each new indignity with quiet resignation.
This film features examples of:
- All for Nothing: The only thing that ends up going right for George is that he does get the very lucrative promotion he came to New York City for in the first place, but Gwen helps George realize an upwardly mobile move to New York City is not what they truly cherish after the urban problems and indignities they have suffered through, so both make the decision to remain in their small town.
- Bad Samaritan: A man named Murray appears at first to help the main couple before robbing them at gunpoint.
- Big "OMG!": Gwen says "Oh my God!" every time something bad happens to them.
- The Big Rotten Apple: The main couple visits New York City in 1970. Among the many other cathastrophes that happen to them, they are robbed at gunpoint, the police is apathetic when they report the robbery, they are held hostage by armed liquor store robbers, and are mugged while sleeping in Central Park.
- Broken Heel: Gwen's heels break during the Kellermans' New York ordeal.
- Butt-Monkey: The Kellermans put up with ridiculous amounts of abuse in New York City.
- Catchphrase: Gwen says "Oh my God!" every time something bad happens to them.
- Fish out of Water: Much of the film's humor is derived from how the main couple suffers nearly every indignity out-of-towners possibly could experience.
- Foreshadowing: Among the many catastrophes the Kellermans endure is an attack by protestors in front of the Cuban embassy. The very last one they are subject to is on the return trip — when their flight home is hijacked to Cuba.
- Humiliation Conga: The movie is basically nothing but a long one directed at the Kellermans.
- Police Are Useless: The police is apathetic when the Kellermans report they have been robbed; and eventually get imperiled in a high-speed chase while they are riding in a police car en route to an armory.
- Place Worse Than Death: The film was one of the films made before its major transformation in The '90s and the Disneyfication of Times Square, which cast New York City as a Wretched Hive the protagonists must endure and/or escape from.
- Running Gag:
- With each successive catastrophe, George angrily writes down each perpetrator's name and promises to sue them or their company when he returns home.
- Gwen saying "Oh my God!" every time something bad happens to them. It ends up being the last line of the film when she says it after discovering that they are subjected to one last catastrophe on their return trip — their flight home is hijacked to Cuba.
- Shell-Shock Silence: George ends up experiencing tinnitus after a manhole explodes and the cover crashes to the street right next to him.
- The Tooth Hurts: George ends up cracking a tooth on stale Cracker Jacks.