Synopsis (Page 2)

Act II: Empty Nest Egg Syndrome

Brooks the director gradually pulls back the camera to show David and Linda living out their dream of "touching Indians" from the head of a 30-foot Winnebago that is heading for Las Vegas. Steppenwolf's early-heavy-metal classic "Born to Be Wild" plays on the soundtrack as David honks his approval of non-conformity to a nearby motorcyclist, who responds by giving David the finger. The subtle meaning of this gesture is lost on David, who shrugs and soldiers on.

At night, David and Linda arrive at Las Vegas and park at the Silver Bell Chapel, where the schism of the Howards' marriage starts to widen. David wants to do a quick ceremony and pull on out. ("This is the most money-grubbing city in the world. This represents everything we're leaving behind," moans David, conveniently forgetting the money-grubbing symbol he now drives.) But Linda proposes luxuriating in a Vegas hotel, hedonistically watching porno flicks and taking baths with David, before exchanging vows. Since that's what Linda wants, David acquiesces.

At the Desert Inn, David completely muddles an attempt to bribe the concierge into letting them have the bridal suite. David openly acknowledges he can't pull this off and asks the concierge what it would take to earn satisfaction. The concierge gives him the going bribe rate of $100.

Even in 1985, a century-note didn't buy what it used to. David and Linda are escorted to a "junior bridal suite," complete with matching heart-shaped beds, a shower large enough for one person (no bath), and a closet that doesn't open. (David assesses, "If Liberace had kids, this would be their room.") They agree to go to bed and arise early for their nuptials.

David awakens at 6 a.m., to no one. He searches the hotel and eventually ends up in a casino, in his bathrobe. (To an objecting security guard, David asserts, "I saw Electric Horseman. An animal rode through here with lights on!") He finds Linda at a roulette table, continually betting on the number 22, to no good purpose. The casino manager (Garry K. Marshall) pulls David aside and tells him to get Linda out while she's behind.

David pulls Linda into the hotel restaurant and extracts the sad information. Linda has been betting all night, first to the cheers of an onlooking crowd, and finally to a husband in a bathrobe. Her total losses? "Everything--give or take a thousand dollars." David's mock-stroke at this news, and Linda's puppy-dog expressions, speak volumes. Eventually, David hatches a plan to get their money back.

David meets with the sympathetic casino manager, who tells David that his hotel bills are on the house. Not good enough for David the ad exec, though--he nonchalantly proposes that "as the boldest experiment in advertising history, you give us our money back." Brooks' acting again is superb, as he wavers between presenting a low-key ad-campaign pitch and squirming in desperation. After some (hilarious) back-and-forth, the casino manager concludes, "We're finished talking."

Cut to a beautiful shot of a desolate Nevada highway, with David and Linda's Winnebago a small dot on the screen. Linda tries to get David to vent, but David insists he is "fine." Linda proposes to make the best of things with a stop at Hoover Dam.

At the dam--a great overhead shot prefaces David's inquiry, "You want to jump first or should I?"--David makes a snide remark about their remaining $802 savings, whereupon Linda proposes taking her half of the money as "the fair thing." David finally explodes, berating Linda until she meekly returns to the Winnie and indicates David should do the same.

David follows her and continues his tirade, asking Linda how such an outrageous event could occur. "I just held things in so long, I thought I'd burst," Linda says. She sincerely apologizes and does her best to make up to David, but he will have none of it. In a monologue on a par with the kiss-off speech to his boss, David gives Linda a condescending lecture on the meaning of the term "nest egg" and commands her to never use the term again. ("If we're in the woods, you can point and say, 'A bird lives in a round stick!' And you have things over-easy with toast!")

Linda finally asserts herself and stomps out of the trailer, pointing out to David the hypocrisy of his basing his life on the modest heroes of Easy Rider, who had no "nest egg" comparable to the Howards.' ("Bullshit!" replies David. "They had a huge nest egg! They had all that cocaine!") Linda also points out that the one good thing to emerge from this mess was that they didn't remarry and can now get divorced more easily.

David immediately retracts and pleads with her not to leave, but she sticks out her thumb and makes her exit in the car of the first available driver. David hurries back to the Winnie and follows the car (another great wide shot showing the Winnie and the car on separate levels of the mountain highway).

David catches up with Linda at a greasy-spoon restaurant and begs her to come back with him, but the car's driver, a burly, assertive brute, will have none of it. Linda tries to ignore David until the brute pulls David outside and starts to beat him up. David and Linda both scream for the police, and the brute asserts that if he wasn't "wanted," he'd take care of business immediately. He pounds his fist on his car, vows to return, and drives off.

David and Linda humorously recount their efforts, with Linda laughing hysterically. ("You'll laugh, soon," she promises David.) Suddenly, David is pulled over by a cop for speeding, which the cop informs David will cost him $150. David tries to talk the cop out of the ticket, to no avail. Then Linda pipes up with, "Did you see Easy Rider?" David tries to tell her that ploy won't work, but then the cop melts. "I can't believe you asked me that," the cop gushes. "That's my favorite movie. I started riding a motorcycle because of that movie!" Shortly, David and the cop are recounting their favorite scenes. Linda suggests that since they're all friends now, perhaps the ticket could be forgotten. The cop merrily waves his hand at the couple and says, "Hey...get out of here!" David kisses Linda and tells her, "You're up a hundred and fifty dollars." The Howards' love--and their sense of humor--have been restored.

Go to:
Page 1 of synopsis
Page 3 of synopsis
Home page