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The movie takes place in New York City over the course of one night. Unhappy office drone Paul Hackett (Griffin Dunne) meets a beautiful girl in a cafe and ends up calling over at her place in SoHo. Things work out badly and he ends up leaving hurriedly. The remainder of the movie chronicles his attempts to get home and the often surreal obstacles he faces.
The film also starred Rosanna Arquette and Linda Fiorentino.
During its initial run, it had competition in the form of Something Wild, starring Melanie Griffith and Ray Liotta, which was also a movie about a milquetoast guy meeting a very worldly girl, and then things take a turn for the dark.
- And I Must Scream: Paul's brief entrapment in a statue
- Bar Brawl: The punks try to shave Paul's head. It is Mohawk Night, after all.
- Big Applesauce: It is a Scorsese movie, after all.
- Black Comedy
- Book Ends: Paul ends up right back in his desk the very next morning.
- Brains and Bondage: Kiki is a SoHo artist, and Paul mistakenly believes she's been tied up against her will.
- Brick Joke: Paul goes into a diner to use a restroom, but the owner tells him it's for customers only, so he orders a burger and coffee and then ducks out. He later unwittingly ends up in the same diner where the bartender from earlier requests he get a glass of water. The owner silently brings the water, along with the burger and coffee.
- Bouncer: He only lets people with Mohawks into Club Berlin.
- Coolest Club Ever: Club Berlin, although it's just another hellish obstacle to Paul.
- Cosmic Plaything: Paul ends up on his knees, begging the universe for an answer as to why he keeps being tormented.
- Drop-Dead Gorgeous Marcy's naked corpse is fully revealed when Paul checks to see if she really did have the burn scars he thought he saw. She doesn't.
- Extremely Short Timespan: It begins at night and ends in the morning.
- Gainax Ending: The movie as it is has a somewhat odd ending (with Paul just happening to fall out of a van while encased in a sculpture, right outside his place of work). Reportedly, another idea for an ending had Paul climbing into a woman's womb, and being "reborn" by the side of a highway.
- Kafka Komedy: One of the most frequently cited examples. The bouncer's dialogue is even taken from "Before the Law".
- Magical Realism: Club Berlin, Marcy's disappearing and reappearing burn scars, amongst others.
- Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Marcy is exactly the plucky type Paul seems to need to get himself out of his boring rut. However, this trope is very darkly subverted - She has a husband as well as a boyfriend, and ends up killing herself after Paul walks out on her.)
- No Fame, No Wealth, No Service: The bouncer seems to be doing this to Paul, as there is no line outside the nightclub. However, it turns out it's because he lacks a Mohawk, yet another one of the ways he is viewed as an outsider.
- Random Events Plot: Paul stumbles from one bizarre situation to the next.
- Really Gets Around: Kiki.
- Title Drop: Tom mentions that "different rules apply" when it gets to be "after hours".
- True Art Is Incomprehensible: Kiki makes plaster-of-Paris sculptures resembling bagels and cream cheese. Also, the freakish screaming papier-mache sculptures.