Cassie decides to leave town for LA to live with Riley and chase her dreams to become an actress.
Cassie (Rosanna Arquette) lives in a small town and works as a bartender for a mean boss, but it is the only job she can get. Despite being in her mid to late twenties, she still lives at home with her simple-minded mother Pearl (Louise Fletcher) and obese younger brother. Cassie's sister also had a nervous breakdown and lives in a mental hospital. Much of the town shuns Cassie as several years ago, her then-boyfriend Billy (Jim Youngs), a semi-successful athlete and town-star, broke up with her when she told him she was pregnant with his baby while they were out to dinner. This resulted in her stabbing him in the throat with a fork at the dinner table (only causing a flesh wound), exposing herself as being pregnant to the small town's disapproval, and unsuccessfully attempting suicide several times. Billy ends up marrying the daughter of the town's wealthiest resident several months later. Cassie ultimately gives the baby up for adoption and has been reclusive ever-since.
Her best friend Pat convinces Cassie to sign up for an acting class offered by a traveling LA-based Shakespeare troupe led by Kirk (Stephen Tobolowsky). She notices that a stagehand named Riley (Eric Roberts) is always lustily staring at her. Kirk helps Cassie confront her emotions, and she soon confronts Riley who asks her out. We learn that Riley had a troubled and violent youth and is socially awkward. Nonetheless, the two begin to date and go on many awkward adventures, including a high-speed drive down a small country highway and a picnic in the cemetery where Cassie's dad is buried. Of course, at about this time, the still-married Billy begins talking with Cassie again, saying how much he misses her.
Cassie excels in her acting classes, chosen to give a monologue from Romeo and Juliet at the town's summer festival. Her relationship with Riley grows rockier as he wants her to leave behind the town that has spurned her and come with him to LA. Riley tells Cassie that he will be leaving after her performance. Though the audience boos her two classmates off the stage and initially are hostile to her, Cassie lets loose and gives an amazing performance that even Riley gushes over. After the show, Billy approaches Cassie and begins hitting on her, and the head of the town's woman's leadership society asks her to perform for them in the fall. Riley, seeing how Cassie is being accepted into the town and is receptive to Billy's advances, throws a huge property-destroying tantrum, writes his address on his shirt to give to Cassie, and prepares to leave town that night.
Cassie talks with Pat at work about whether she can fully trust Riley. Billy and his wife show up at the bar, with Billy secretly asking Cassie to go to his lakehouse with him the next weekend. While serving Billy and his wife drinks, however, Billy's wife mentions that she is pregnant . Cassie, realizing that an uncertain future with a man who loves her is better than the cycle that will repeat itself in this town, screams at Billy, quits her job, says a quick good-bye to her family, and runs off to Riley's apartment.
When she gets there, it appears Billy is gone, but she sees him getting into his car. She jumps onto the fire escape and throws her suitcase at his car to get his attention. She runs down into his arms and they collect the belongings that flew out of her suitcase. The two then drive off to the happy but uncertain future that awaits them in LA.
Thanks Evan B!