NOTE: This spoiler was sent in by Patay1792a who says... "This is a movie spoiler synopsis for the Martin Scorsese movie, After Hours (1985) starring Griffin Dunne. It is set during one long night in the life of a New York City computer programer and the mishaps his life takes when he leaves his comfortable Upper East Side apartment and ventures to SoHo for a date with a woman be barely knows."
Paul Hackett (Griffin Dunn) is a lonely and bored computer word-processing consultant who wants more in his life than just going to work and going home every boring day of his life. One day involves teaching a new trainee, named Lloyd (Bronson Pinchot), the works of the computer. Paul leaves the office building when it closes at the end of the day and goes to his Upper East Side apartment on East 91st Street where he wastes the evening away watching TV and reading Arthur Miller books.
Venturing out in search of carnal pleasures, Paul meets the sexy-but-quirky Marcy (Rosanna Arquette) in a coffee shop near his apartment building and begins chatting up a conversation with her. Paul asks for Marcy’s phone number before she leaves and she tells him that he can call her anytime. Back at his apartment, Paul works up enough nerve to phone Marcy. She invites him to come down to SoHo where she is staying with Kiki, and artist friend of hers. The time is 11:32 p.m.
Paul jumps into a taxi cab outside his apartment, and then the weirdness begins. The burly cab driver whisks Paul through the streets of New York at 80mph as if being chased by the hounds of hell. During the wild ride, Paul loses a $20 bill, the only money he has on him when it’s whisked out the car window, and he is forced to stiff the driver. Paul finds the loft and meets Kiki (Linda Fiorentino) for the first time, who’s wearing nothing but a black bra and leather miniskirt, working on a paper-maché sculpture that resembles painter Edvard Munch’s The Scream.
Eventually, Marcy shows up and they go out to a nearby diner where they talk about their favorite movie which is The Wizard of Oz, among other things. When offered to pay the bill, the strange diner waiter (played by Dick Miller, a great character actor) tells Paul that it’s on the house. "Different rules apply when it gets this late, you know what I mean? It’s like
after hours," says the waiter
At 1:40 a.m., Marcy and Paul return to the loft, where she ushers Paul to her bedroom. But then, Marcy prattles on about events in her tragic life, delivering her lines with a staccato rhythm punctuated by a nervous laugh. Marcy turns out to be a hyperactive mass of contradictions, and Paul decides that swaying her emotions are a bit too weird to handle. So, Paul begins acting like a jerk and leaves.
When he on the street, it begins raining, and he gets soaked walking a block to the nearest subway station. He picks out about 97 cents in change, all the money he has on him. But the attendant tells Paul that the subway fare for a token has just gone up to $1.50 that very midnight, and the time is now 2:15 am. Paul begs the attendant to give him a single token, but the attendant refuses saying, "I can’t do that. I’d loose my job." Paul looks around the station, sees no one and sarcastically states, "Well, who would know
exactly?" The attendant responds, "I could go to a party, get drunk, talk to someone
who knows?" When Paul threatens the attendant, a burly transit cop appears and scares Paul away.
Paul runs through the rain and into a nearby bar, which is nearly empty, and asks the waitress Julie (Terri Garr) if he could just sit there for a while without buying anything. She agrees and slips him a note saying: "Help! I hate this job!" Sensing that the weirdness is starting again, Paul asks the friendly bartender Tom (John Heard) if he can borrow money for a subway fare to get home. Tom is glad to help. But first, Tom asks Paul to go to his place and check if the alarm is turned on because there have been a rash of burglaries in the neighborhood over the past several days. As a sign of trust, Paul leaves his apartment keys with Tom and rushes off with Tom’s apartment keys to earn his $1.50. Paul lets himself into Tom’s apartment, checks the alarm which is on and leaves. But on his way out, he is hassled by neighbors who suspect that Paul is a burglar. Paul manages to get away from them.
On the street, Paul spots two Hispanic men (Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong) trying to stuff Kiki’s paper-maché sculpture into a van. Paul gives them chase, forcing them to drop the statue and drive off. Paul brings the statue back to Kiki’s loft nearby and finds her gagged and tied to a pillar. He unties Kiki thinking that they robbed her, but she tells them that the men are Pepe and Neil, friends her hers who just bought the stature and that she’s tied up because she and her boyfriend Horst (Will Patton) are playing a sex game. Kiki and Horst tell Paul that he should apologize to Marcy who has been in her bedroom crying since Paul left. Paul goes to Marcy’s bedroom to apologize only to discover that Marcy has committed suicide by taking an overdose of sleeping pills. He runs to tell Kiki, but she and Horst have gone, leaving a note saying that they have gone to a nightclub.
Paul sees a $20 bill left behind by them and instinctively takes it. Paul calls the police to report the body, and then dashes back to the bar so he can get his apartment keys back from Tom, but finds the place closed. Julie the waitress approaches him and invites him to her apartment just across the street to wait for Tom to show up.
Julie’s apartment looks like a shrine to the mid-1960s replete with the music of the Monkees playing in the background. Paul soon discovers Julie to be even stranger than Marcy, for Julie has a shelf full with cans of Final Net hair spray and a dozen or more mousetraps around her bed. Julie asks Paul to let her draw a picture of him which he agrees.
When Paul sees Tom coming back to reopen the bar, he makes a mad dash out of Julie’s apartment and back to the bar. Tom tells Paul that he just left to check his apartment because it took so long for Paul to come back. Paul apologizes and gives Tom back his apartment keys who gives Paul back his. Just as Tom is about to hand over the $1.50, the phone rings and someone on the other line informs Tom that his girlfriend has just committed suicide. To his horror, Paul immediately learns that Marcy was Tom’s girlfriend. Suddenly seized with the notion that Julie may follow in Marcy’s suicidal footsteps, Paul leaves the bar and races back to Julie’s apartment. She is fine, of course, and Paul, who desperately wants to get out of SoHo, makes a feeble excuse and leaves again.
By this time, however, Tom’s neighbors have become convinced that Paul is responsible for the rash of burglaries in SoHo and form together a vigilante group to hunt him down. But the real robbers are naturally Pepe and Neil, who are busy just blocks away ripping off another apartment right under everyone’s nose.
Paul runs to Club Berlin, the nightclub where Kiki and Horst have gone, to tell them about Marcy's death. But Paul discovers that the place is a gathering of Mohawk-type punks who grab him and proceed to shave his head. Paul sees Kiki and Horst at a table and calls out to them, but they don’t see or hear him through the loud music and crowd. Paul runs out of the club barely able to compose himself with only a line or two of his hair shaved off.
Back on the street, Paul suddenly meets the same cab driver whom he was forced to stiff earlier for the ride. Paul gives the driver the $20 bill he took from Kiki’s loft, but the driver just grabs the bill and drives off as payback for stiffing him. Paul by then has just run into another strange woman, coming out of the cab, named Gail (Catherine O‘Hara). At Gail’s apartment, Paul asks if he could use her phone so he can call a friend from his neighborhood for a ride. When Paul gets the number from information, Gail gleefully starts spouting out random numbers and Paul gets confused and forgets the number information has just given him. The strange and hysterical Gail then blurts out that she drives a Mister Softee ice-cream truck nearby and will be glad to give him a ride home. But when they arrive at the truck parked in an alley, Gail spots a wanted poster of Paul (the same picture drawn by Julie) on a wall and uses a whistle to alert the vigilante mob which is numbering in the dozens. Paul is forced to run for his life. He gets away from the mob by running into an alley and hides atop a fire escape ladder. Then Paul witnesses a murder in the apartment just across from him where a woman shoots her abusive husband to death. "I’ll probably get blamed for that too," says Paul mumbling to himself.
Back on the street, Paul runs into a shy homosexual man, named Alex, (Robert Plunket) and allows himself to be ’picked-up’ to let himself into the man’s apartment. Paul asks to use Alex’s phone to call the police and then tries to tell the desk sergeant about wanting to report the vigilante mob that’s been endangering his life. Unbelievably, the policeman on the other end of the line thinks it’s a prank call and hangs up on him. Frazzled, exhausted, and running on adrenaline, Paul launches into a frenzied monolog about the events of the night to Alex. Dissolve to 30 or more minutes later, Paul ends his story with the line: "I just wanted to leave by apartment, maybe meet a nice girl
and now I gotta die for it?!" "Why don’t you just go home?" asks Alex. "Don’t you think that's crossed my mind all night?" exclaims Paul. Then Paul sees Julie on the street putting up wanted posters of him on a lamp post. Paul runs back out onto the street and calls out to her, but she just scornfully glances at him and rides off on a bicycle. Paul sees dozens of wanted posters of him on every street corner and begins tearing them off realizing that Julie has set him up to get back at him for walking out on her.
At 4:10 a.m., Paul goes back to the diner where he meets Tom and asks for help to hide him. Tom agrees and goes outside to check if the coast is clear. But Paul sees Tom running right to up Gail and the vigilante mob passing by and tells them where Paul is. Paul runs out of the diner just in time. As a last resort, Paul dashes back to Club Berlin hoping to find Kiki and Horst there to ask them for help, but now finds the place deserted for it is closing since the time now is almost 5 a.m. The only patron there is a middle-aged woman, named June (Verna Bloom). June is very sympathetic to Paul and senses right away that he’s in trouble. When Paul hears the sounds of Gail’s ice-cream truck outside and the voices of the vigilante mob now numbering in the hundreds, Paul asks June to hide him. June lives in a basement apartment below the club and takes Paul to her home.
When Gail and the rest of the vigilante mob break into Club Berlin looking for Paul, June, who also happens to be a paper-maché sculptress, hides Paul by dumping plaster all over him and making him a living sculpture. Unable to find Paul, Gail and her group departs. Paul then begs June to stop encasing him in paper-maché, but she continues until he is covered from head-to-toe. When June leaves to see if the coast is all clear, the two robbers, Pepe and Neil, break into June’s place from a sealed manhole to rob it. When they see the sculpture with Paul encased in it, they think he is the paper-mache sculpture they lost earlier that night and steal him. They load Paul in the back of their van now spilling over with dozens of stolen appliances from the SoHo apartments including June’s (Paul realizes that he will probably get blamed for robbing her place too).
As dawn breaks, Paul sits helplessly in the back of the thieves’ van as it rides through Manhattan on its way uptown. At a street corner, the van hits a rather large pothole, the back doors fling open, Paul comes tumbling out into the street, and the hardened paper-maché casing breaks, freeing him. Paul then looks around and sees that he‘s standing
right in front of his office building! A dazed Paul dusts himself off the best he can, and enters the building just as it’s opening for business. Paul goes to the floor where he works, sits at his desk, and begins to go to work at his computer as the rest of the office workers arrive. It’s the beginning of just another boring weekday for him.