Charles is a Salt Lake City civil servant who loves Laura, a lovely housewife with a lovely step-daughter and an A-frame-selling, ex-quarterback husband named Ox. His roommate is "an unemployed jacket salesman," his mother is a spacey, laxative overdosing, overly eccentric basket-case, his perpetually happy sister finds love in the dorkiest of guys, his step-father has a jones for Turtle Wax and his boss asks him for advice about his Ivy League son's sexual problems. He listens to Janis Joplin and dreams of getting Laura back once and for all. He does everything in his power to win her back from Ox, and the lengths he goes to provide the structure of the film in this bittersweet romantic comedy.
The first version of the film was names "Head over Heels". In 1982, the distributor re-released it with a new ending and the title was changed to match the book.