A loner detective save a mobster's life and is sent a girl to be his companion for a week as a "thank you".
The tale of a shy, lonely and kind-hearted forensics detective, Wayne Dobie (De Niro) - facetiously nicknamed Mad Dog - who saves the life of Chicago loanshark Frank Milo (Murray) in a convenience store stick-up and as a thank-you gift receives the companionship of leggy Glory (Thurman) for a week, this could have quite easily nestled snugly into the category known as Romantic Comedy.
Director McNaughton and writer Richard Price have other ideas, however, serving notice with a violently ugly opening of a drug deal turned to murder - its casual suddenness a reminder of McNaughton's breakthrough Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer - and comely though Glory may be, her situation and sob story as an abused piece of property are not exactly crackling with comic potential.
The interesting relationships here are all male, between Mad Dog and his pugnacious partner Mike (David Caruso) and, most fruitfully, the buddy notion stood on its head in the tremendous double act that is De Niro and Murray. In Milo, Murray is a knockout as a serio-comic heavy - slick, sardonic, unpredictable and blowing hot and cold to the off-balance Mad Dog.
What makes this uneasy viewing is the jumping from comedy to brutality, and from the progress of the love affair to the constant challenges to Mad Dog's "manhood". As a sensitive, gentle man, it seems he is unworthy of love until he can steel himself to beat the crap out of someone. Thus, despite some very funny moments, this is morally difficult to justify, while simultaneously sending up and celebrating macho bullshit.
An uneasy mix of comedy and brutality makes the sweetness of the romance hard to justify.